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The Ruffians, the Town Pants

Alive at Five, Thursday

Call it second-generation Celtic punk rock. That is: The Ruffians, who formed in NYC in the late ’90s, weren’t the first to cut traditional Irish music with a dose of punk rock, but they have effectively blended the sound and energy of those originators before them: Dropkick Murphys, Black 47, the Pogues, and Flogging Molly. Full of Uileann pipes, tin whistle and button accordion, it’s a sound that has launched them onto the Irish-music- festival circuit and, naturally, goes well with a cold pint. Openers the Town Pants (from Vancouver) play what they’re calling “West Coast Celtic,” built from a “pawnshop’s worth of musical instruments.” (July 8, 5 PM, free, Albany Riverfront Park, Corning Preserve, Albany, 434-2032)

Grupo Fantasma

Club Helsinki, Saturday

Having worked through two Cumbia revivals in the past decade, the Grammy-nominated Grupo Fantasma consider themselves “children of neocolonialism” who have moved beyond retro notions of Latin orchestras to create forward-looking hybrid music. All this, and they’ll make you shake your hips. The 10-piece, Austin, Texas-based band are full of horns and percussion, and their latest album, El Existential, has catapulted the group onto a lengthy international tour that included dates backing the one and only Prince at Coachella and on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a stop at Bonnaroo, and 10 days in Iraq. This is world music taken literally. (July 10, 9 PM, $15, 405 Columbia St., Hudson, 828-4800)

WGNA Countryfest

Altamont Fairgrounds, Saturday

It’s radio-station music-festival season again. First on the docket this year is country leader WGNA’s annual fête. Heading up the roster is Blake Shelton, whose recent duet with Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone,” gave Shelton his sixth No. 1 single on the country charts. Joining Shelton atop the lineup is Gretchen Wilson, who recently parted ways with Sony Nashville after several failed attempts to recapture her mid-’00s glory days; her long-delayed new album, I Got Your Country Right Here, was released this spring on Wilson’s own Redneck Records. The bill also features Nashville imports Jason Michael Carroll (Houston) and David Nail (Missouri), one-time reality-TV star Chuck Wicks, and up-and-coming duo the JaneDear Girls. (July 10, 11 AM, $40, Route 146, Altamont, 861-6671)

Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus

Valentine’s, Monday

Ah, Rolling Stone, always trying so hard to stay relevant. We’ll give the credit for trying, though—their recent decision to name New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus as one of the “10 Best New Bands of 2010” is only slightly misguided. (The band have been in action since 2005, and their lo-fi 2008 debut, The Airing of Grievances, was rereleased by XL in 2009.) Nitpicking aside, The Monitor, their Civil War-themed, Billy Bragg-referencing second LP, is one of this year’s best-reviewed records, promising that the band’s future is brighter than that of the titular character in that Shakespeare tragedy. They’ll be joined onstage Monday by members of Hallelujah the Hills, who will also play the night’s middle slot; Beware! The Other Head of Science will open. (July 12, 8 PM, $10, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 432-6572)

Joan Armatrading, Diane Birch

The Egg, Wednesday

Per Joan Armatrading’s Wikipedia entry, the British singer-songwriter was fired from her first job for “bringing her guitar to work and playing during tea breaks.” Sounds like a good omen to us—at least it beats getting caught with a backpack full of office supplies. Thirty- something years and a few dozen records on and Armatrading is still laughing the last laugh. We recommend you check out this powerful performer, not only because she’s still cutting great albums (her latest, This Charming Life, was released this spring) but because her opening act, newcomer Diane Birch, has enough soulful style and strong songs to secure her a career as enduring as Armatrading’s. (July 14, 8 PM, $34.50-49.50, Empire State Plaza, Albany, 473-1845)

Also Noted

Pierce the Veil

Still bummed out about that canceled George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic show back in February? Get your make-up funk tonight (Thursday) when the P-Funk Mothership finally descends on Northern Lights, with bonus beats from veteran U.K. reggae band Steel Pulse; all tickets for February’s show will be honored at the door (7 PM, $30, 371-0012). . . . Seattle band Minus the Bear return to Northern Lights tomorrow (Friday) in support of their new album, Omni; Everest and Keepaway are also on the bill (7 PM, $18, 371-0012). . . . Riverlink Park in Amsterdam kicks off its free summer concert series on Saturday with area performers John Scarpulla and Holly and Evan (7 PM, free, . . . Buffalo’s Son of the Sun play Valentine’s on Saturday, along with locals Alta Mira and Matt Durfee (8 PM, $5, 432-6572). . . . Get a taste of the Jersey shore (if you’re into that kind of thing) when Bon Jovi and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes play SPAC on Sunday; an as-yet-undecided local band will open (8 PM, $35-$175, 587-3330). . . . San Diego hardcore band Pierce the Veil are part of a Northern Lights bill on Monday that also features Attack! Attack!, Parkway Drive, Confide, and the Capital Region’s own Rick Whispers (6 PM, $18, 371-0012). . . . Todd Rundgren brings his Johnson Tour—a set that pays tribute to Delta blues legend Robert Johnson—to his home base, the Bearsville Theatre in Woodstock, Tuesday night (8 PM, $40-$50, 845-679-4406). . . . Also Tuesday, Natalie Merchant reemerges with a show at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, Mass., that features music from her latest release, the childhood-themed Leave Your Sleep (8 PM, $45-$55, 413-586-8686).

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