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The Bouncing Souls, the Pietasters, the Unseen, the Arsons
Saratoga Winners, Thursday

When they formed in high school in 1987, the Bouncing Souls used to throw keggers to help spread their music. Last year, the Bouncing Souls spent their summer vacation touring the world. After finishing up a spring tour of Japan with Green Day, the New York-based quartet also played on the Vans Warped Tour, and even recorded a video at seminal punk club CBGBs. Not bad for a bunch of punks from East Brunswick, N.J. Playing catchy sing-along pop-punk, the Bouncing Souls have slowly made a name for themselves on the East Coast music scene. After releasing their early recordings on their own label, the group have since been signed by Epitaph Records. Their most recent release, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, is the first to feature new drummer Michael McDermott; it’s the band’s first lineup change since high school. The Bouncing Souls, who have shared the stage with popular punks NOFX, the Dropkick Murphys and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, will bounce into Saratoga Winners tonight (Thursday) for a headlining show of their own. Joining the festivities will be fellow raw rockers the Pietasters, Unseen, and the Arsons. (March 21, 7:45 PM, $12, 783-1010)

Markus James
Club Helsinki, Great Barrington, Mass., Thursday

It’s one thing to talk a good game about playing music that reflects the traditions of a particular locale, but it’s quite another to back up such talk by actually going to said locale and recording music there. Singer-songwriter Markus James can honestly say he backs up his talk about recording “African roots” music influenced by the sounds of Mali, in West Africa, because that’s just where he recorded his latest CD, Night Bird. The disc features James performing with a number of Malian musicians, including multi-instrumentalist Solo Sibide. And when James checks into Great Barrington’s Club Helsinki tonight (Thursday), Sibide will be right there beside him, to accompany James on the kamalee ngoni, an African stringed instrument. James has promised an evening of harmonies and harmoniousness: “We really don’t need to say anything to each other—I just start playing the song in whatever shape it’s in, and Solo finds something for it.” (March 21, 8:30 PM, $8, 413-528-3394)

Amy Rigby, Deb Talan
Iron Horse, Northampton, Mass., Friday

In 1996, Amy Rigby scored big with critics by releasing the country-inflected pop album Diary of a Mod Housewife. The record wryly detailed the struggles of a thirtysomething single mom managing both a fledgling musical career and the exigencies of temp life in Manhattan. Since then, Rigby quit the Big Apple for Nashville and released two more albums, the latest of which, The Sugar Tree, continues to straddle the line between smart-aleck pop and heartbreaking woe-is-me country. Produced by indie-rock maestro Brad Wood (who helmed Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, among others), The Sugar Tree easily incorporates both the scathing “Balls” (which is about exactly what you’d guess it’s about) and the tender, mournful “Stop Showing Up in My Dreams.” Deb Talan will open. (March 22, 7 PM, $10, 800-THE-TICK)

Maura O’Connell
The Egg, Friday

Irish vocalist Maura O’Connell has long been a favorite of local audiences, because whether she’s playing a free show in an area park or doing an intimate gig like her performance tomorrow (Friday) at the Egg, she always brings to bear her almost elemental powers of expression. A singer’s singer who can either belt loudly enough to shake the rafters or slide into the supple grooves of a gentle ballad, O’Connell also wins favor by wearing her Irishness on her sleeve: She’s the first to admit that she loves nothing more than a heart-wrenching tune about misery and loss. O’Connell first visited America as a member of the traditional Celtic act DeDanann, and by the late ’80s, she was a Nashville-based solo performer with a Grammy nomination under her belt. Since then, O’Connell has toured and recorded steadily, building an acclaimed repertoire loaded with definitive or near-definitive versions of tunes penned by talents from the worlds of rock, folk, blues, pop and Irish music. So when she takes the Egg stage, expect a spirited mix of the downbeat and the upbeat, as well as colorful between-song banter about O’Connell’s far-ranging musical adventures. (March 22, 8 PM, $22, 473-1845)

The SnoCore Icicle Ball
Pearl Street, Northampton Mass., Tuesday

SnoCore is back, and this time, the original “winter/sport/lifestyle” event—now in its seventh year—will arrive Tuesday at Pearl Street in Northampton, Mass., with the SnoCore Icicle Ball (the other half of the tour, the SnoCore Rock Tour, stopped by the area last month). The lineup this year has been ever-changing, and the one you’ll find at Pearl Street includes Michael Franti and Spearhead, whose lyrics take on a host of social issues set to classic soul, funk and hiphop. Spearhead’s biography states that “while DJs borrow, sample and loop their beats, Franti leads his kickass live band on a groove tour through the history of funk.” Frank Sinatra’s goddaughter, Nikka Costa, is also on board, and she is no stranger to the biz. Costa grew up in the company of such legends as Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr., Sly Stone and Sinatra, as her own father was an arranger, producer and composer. Her debut single was featured (as was she) in a Tommy Hilfiger commercial that essentially put her on the map. Influential poet-MC Saul Williams and San Francisco-based rap act Blackalicious round out the bill. (March 26, 7 PM, $22.50, 800-THE-TICK)

also noted

The Albany Public Library is launching a concert series tonight (Thursday) with a performance by Rosanne Raneri; the shows will be the third Thursday of every other month, and upcoming performers include Michael Eck, Sara Ayers and Beth Jochum & Ernie Williams (7 PM, free, 427-4300). . . . Bar-band heroes NRBQ will play a show at Northern Lights tonight; Folding Sky will open ($14, $12 advance, 371-0012). . . . Former Solas member Karan Casey will play tonight at the Saratoga Knights of Columbus, accompanied by Niall Vallaly and Robbie Overson; Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann will open (7 PM, $15, 583-9452). . . . MCA recording artists Midtown will play Saratoga Winners tomorrow (Friday), with Piebald, Armor for Sleep and Rory Breaker opening (8 PM, $10, 783-1010). . . . Boston-based Mancie will play Valentine’s Friday, with our very own heartthrobs, the Stars of Rock and the Day Jobs, sharing the stage (10 PM, 432-6572). . . . New York City jazz/funk/instrumental experience Drive-By Leslie, led by king of the keyboard Adam Klipple, will play the Van Dyck on Saturday (7 and 9:30 PM, 381-1111). . . . Area blues band Big Johnson will celebrate the release of their CD, Collectors Items, at Artie’s Lansingburgh Station on Saturday (9 PM, 238-2788). . . . Entrain, a six-piece band out of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., will celebrate their first Rounder Records release, Entrain Live: Vol. 1—Rise Up, at Great Barrington’s Club Helsinki on Saturday (9 PM, 413-528-3394). . . . Scott Helland will play his “ambient acoustic space folk” on Saturday at Albany’s Borders Books & Music in preparation for the fifth release, Earthbound (8 PM, free, 482-5800).

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