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Sonya Kitchell Trio

Iron Horse Music Hall, Thursday

People go through a lot of changes in their late teens. Just look at western Massachusetts native Sonya Kitchell, who was signed to a national recording contract at age 16 and earned her first Grammy before she was 20 (thanks to her work on Herbie Hancock’s Album of the Year-winning River: the Joni Letters.) Her 2008 record, This Storm, shed the jazz-tinged arrangements of her earlier work in favor of a more straightforward pop-rock appeal, much to the chagrin of some fans. But on her new EP Convict of Conviction, Kitchell makes another sharp musical turn, adopting a string quartet to back her for a set of ornate chamber pop. Kids these days. . . . Kitchell will be joined at the Iron Horse buy violinist Dana Lyn and Apollo Sunshine guitarist Sam Cohen. The Sun Parade opens. (Feb. 3, 7 PM, $15, 20 Center St., Northampton, Mass., 413-586-8686)

Todd Snider

Todd Snider

Club Helsinki, Friday

Publicity 101: If Rolling Stone calls you the “funniest folkie since John Prine,” you put it at the top of your press release in all caps. Todd Snider earned that very heady praise for his terrific blend of humor and truth, and that blend is on fine display on The Storyteller, the new double-disc Snider live album out this week. The Nashville singer-songwriter has more expansively been called “part Dylan and Kristofferson, part Mitch Hedberg and Bill Hicks,” and The Storyteller shows exactly why: His humor isn’t just confined to the lyrics, but stretches out into long, off-the-cuff stories and song introductions. On the album, Snider is backed by Colorado band Great American Taxi; at Club Helsinki, it’s just pure, unadulterated Todd. (Feb. 4, 9 PM, $20, 405 Columbia St., Hudson, 828-4800)

Papa Grows Funk

Venable Gymnasium, Friday

It’s more than a cash crop; it’s a New Orleans legacy. Funk, that is. For a decade now, Hammond B3 maestro John Gros has been growing the sticky, stinky variety with a team of the Crescent City’s most accomplished groove barons. This is the second time Papa Grows Funk have headlined the MCLA Blues and Funk Festival, and we doubt it will be the last. Rounding out the blues end of things will be bassist Benny Turner, who can name both Freddie King and Johnny Mathis in his musical and genetic lineage. (Feb. 4, 7:30 PM, $5-$12, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, Mass., 413-662-5000)

Yarn, Steven L. Smith Band

Putnam Den, Saturday

What is this world coming to when some of the best country music is being made in Brooklyn?! Next you’ll tell us hillbillies listen to hip-hop. (Wait, really?) Yarn are the country band in question, unabashedly spinning world-weary twange on fiddles and Dobros—even yodelling—from their urban digs. Some have likened the sound to Steve Earle or Whiskeytown-era Ryan Adams, but there’s definitely a little Grateful Dead in there as well. Opener Steven L. Smith is an Adirondack man, so the country comes easier, and the fact that he makes his own guitars—like, out of wood—should say a thing or two about his commitment to craft. (Feb. 5, 8 PM, $10, 63A Putnam St., Saratoga Springs, 584-8066)

Appetite for Destruction

Jillian’s, Saturday

You know what? Fuck it, we’re going to go ahead and endorse a tribute act. It’s not something we usually do, but in this case we see no problem with it. Because Appetite for Destruction are named for one of the all-time great hard-rock records, an album whose seedy riffs and screeching wails are an appropriate soundtrack for our last year on the planet. And because, as you probably know, the band who currently call themselves “Guns N’ Roses” are not the band the rest of us call Guns N’ Roses, so a reasonable facsimile of the band we used to love will have to do. The only qualm we have with Appetite for Destruction is their self-billed status as the “ultimate” tribute to Axl, Slash , and the gang—we’d give that honor to the all-female GN’R tribute, Paradise Titty. (Feb. 5, 10 PM, $10, 59 N. Pearl St., Albany, 432-1997)

Also Noted
Railroad Earth

Tonight (Thursday) brings the return of New Jersey’s folk-Americana travelers Railroad Earth to the Capital Region, for a show at Northern Lights; the band currently are riding high on the strong October debut of their latest, self-titled record (7 PM, $22, 371-0012). . . . Last week’s concert at Bearsville Theater may have been canceled due to weather, but it looks like all systems are go for Neko Case and Lost in the Trees at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, Mass., tomorrow (Friday, 8 PM, $25-$32.50, 413-586-8686). . . . Third time’s a charm, they say: The twice-postponed concert by 30 Seconds to Mars will finally hold firm this Friday at Northern Lights, and, lo and behold, it’s sold out (8 PM, 371-0012). . . . If you missed the sublime young songwriter David Berkeley when he played Club Helsinki last week, you have an extra-special bonus chance on Friday: In addition to playing music from his latest album, Some Kind of Cure, this Friday at the Kleinert/James Art Center in Woodstock, Berkeley will also read from and sign copies of his new book of short stories, 140 Goats and a Guitar (8 PM, $15, 845-679-2079). . . . Here’s a rare chance to see a local great do his thing in a small-combo setting: The Keith Pray Group will play Justin’s on Saturday (9:30 PM, $5, 436-7008). . . . At Valentine’s on Tuesday, get your fix of good-time, prohibition-era swing with Asheville, N.C. band Woody Pines; they’re joined by Dan Johnson and his Expert Sidemen (8 PM, $5, 432-6572).

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