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Poco, Stony Creek
Tricentennial Park, Thursday

Though the name Poco may have you racking the Where Are They Now section of your brain, their big songs, “Crazy Love” and “Heart of the Night,” will strike an immediate chord with any child of the ’70s. Those Top 20 hits, however, came late enough in the band’s career that the casual fan may not know just how odd it is that the band had to wait so long to score on the charts. See, the original Poco were a kind of supergroup, boasting two former full-time members of Buffalo Springfield, guitarist-singer Richie Furay and bassist Jim Messina; a part-timer, vocalist-steel guitarist Rusty Young; and a future Eagle, Randy Meisner. (Another eventual Eagle, Timothy B. Schmidt, also served under the Poco banner for a spell, but we digress.) The band’s many lineup changes are too involved to chart here, but what you need to know is that when Poco perform at Tricentennial Park on Thursday, they’ll have two founding members (Young and drummer George Grantham) and the vocalist from the band’s most commercially successful years (Paul Cotton). So the songs you love most should sound just the way you most love them, mostly. Stony Creek will open. (July 25, 5 PM, free, 434-2032)

The Downbeat 5, the Erotics
Artie’s Lansingburgh Station, Friday

The Downbeat 5’s guitarist, JJ Rassler, is something of a punk-rock legend due to his stints in DMZ, the Odds and the Queers; and now his wife, Jen, who also happens to be Downbeat 5’s vocalist, is getting her props and building a rep as well: Critics in the band’s hometown, Boston, are absolutely nuts for these guys. According to the Boston Globe, they blend the “sweet but tough sensibilities of girl groups like the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las with the gritty texture of the Kinks, Animals, and the early Rolling Stones.” And the Phoenix has called their sound “timeless.” Not too shabby. That’s good news for fans, of course, and probably good news for the couple: The family that plays together, stays together, after all. Opening for the Downbeat 5 will be glam-rock phenoms the Erotics, who we suspect stick together for entirely different and less wholesome reasons. (July 26, 9 PM, $3, 238-2788)

Step Sister, GC5, To Hell and Back, Gay Tastee and the Wasted
Valentine’s, Saturday

You say you’ve got some ag gres sion bottled up, some steam you need to let off in a socially acceptable, primarily vicarious manner? Well, you lucky headcase, you, Valentine’s has got just what the headshrinker ordered. Downstairs on Saturday, two bands from Cleveland will bust out a couple of different strains of self described working-class punk sharp enough to poke airholes in your hostility: Step Sister, who are described with reference to muscular acts such as MC5, the Damned, the Stooges and Rose Tattoo, and GC5, who cite as influences the ska-bent punk of the Clash, Rancid and the Swingin’ Utters. Also on the bill, hometown hellraisers Gay Tastee and the Wasted (that’s Steve Gaylord’s new deal) and To Hell and Back, featuring former members of Devoid of Faith. (July 27, 9 PM, $5, 432-6572)

Fred Gillen Jr., Rob Skane
Artie’s Lansingburgh Station, Saturday

We know that the Hardest Working Man in Show Business title is taken, and we’re not gonna step on James’ cape, nosiree. It’s just that we know a shitload, a baker’s shitload, of folks slogging it out on the club circuit for whom the title would fit nicely. Fred Gillen Jr. is certainly a contender. The onetime Rain Deputy tours like a mofo—bookstores, coffee shops, student centers, house parties, street corners—plying his folk-meets-rock-meets Americana-meets big-time heartbreaking ballad thang, and never seems the worse for wear. Accordingly, he swings through the area with some regularity. But if you haven’t seen him yet, you might want to take this chance, because we hear that this’ll be the last gig in the Capital Region before Gillen takes his show to Germany. Yeah, he’s got stateside dates scheduled after that, but you know what they say, “After you’ve seen Zwickau, there’s no returning, no how.” Fortunately, the region will still have it’s own rocking folkster Rob Skane, who will open the show, to rely on. (July 27, 9 PM, $2, 238-2788)

Big Chief Bo Dollis & the Wild Magnolias, Magnolia
Central Park, Sunday

New Orleans’ Mardi Gras celebrations are known to be full of funk and tequila. But part of the festivities also traditionally include the Mardi Gras Indians, known as “tribes,” who are African-American performance groups who dress in traditional Native American attire and parade through the Big Easy, chanting, dancing and beating on various percussion instruments. Led by Big Chief Bo Dollis, the Wild Magnolias aim to reinterpret the music of the Mardi Gras Indians for modern music fans. Comprising several Mardi Gras Indians, the Wild Magnolias, playing Central Park on Sunday, add guitars, drums, keyboards and other electric instruments to the more traditional percussion sound. In the mid-’70s, the Wild Magnolias recorded two well-received albums, The Wild Magnolias and They Call Us Wild, an effort for which the group surrounded themselves with some of New Orleans’ most popular musicians, including members of the Meters and the Neville Brothers. Their most recent release, 2000’s Life Is a Carnival, included such notable guests as Dr. John and the Band (including Robbie Robertson), and Osaka, Japan’s Black Bottom Brass Band. (July 28, 3 PM, free, 800-776-2992)

Northern Lights, Tuesday

Pantera singer Phil Anselmo knows how to keep busy during his downtime. When Pantera took a break from touring and recording in the mid-1990s, Anselmo organized his own metal supergroup, consisting of Corrosion of Conformity guitarist Pepper Keenan and Crowbar’s rhythm section, bassist Todd Strange and drummer Jimmy Bower. Calling themselves Down, the side project recorded their debut album, NOLA, in 1995, which spawned the hit single “Stone the Crow.” Featuring 13 tracks written by Keenan and Anselmo, NOLA was well received in metal circuits, making metalheads question whether Anselmo would make Down more than a side project. While the group’s members each specialize in shock rock and hard-edged metal, Down’s sound adheres more to a Sabbath-esque classic-rock vein. After a supporting tour for NOLA, Down took a break, and the members went back to concentrating on their own projects. In 2001 a revamped version of Down reconvened as Anselmo, Keenan, Bower and newcomers Pantera bassist Rex Brown and Crowbar guitarist Kirk Windstein, and they released their sophomore effort, Down II, this past March. (July 30, 7:30 PM doors, $20, $18 advance, 371-0012)

also noted

Tonight (Thursday), Wood-stock alum Richie Havens will play a free show at Guilderland’s Tawasentha Park (7:30 PM, 356-1980). . . . Coalchamber will play Northern Lights tomorrow (Friday), with Lollipop, Lust Kill, Medication and Five Point O opening (7:30 PM doors, $18, $16 advance, 371-0012). . . . Saturday at Northern Lights will be Judas Priest with Untamed (doors 7:30 PM, $25, $22.50 advance, 371-0012). . . . Glitter of Cohoes, One Candle Power, Kitchens & Bathrooms and the Sixfifteens will play the upstairs stage at Valentine’s on Saturday (8 PM, $7, 432-6572). . . . Those Beach Boys will bring some sand to Proctor’s Theatre on Saturday (8 PM, $35-$48, 346-6204). . . . Internationally known jazz guitarist Ben Monder, described as “Bill Frisell without the Americana,” will bring his quartet to the WAMC Performing Arts Studio on Sunday (7 PM, $12, 465-5233, ext. 4). . . . Australian favorites the Waifs will play Great Barrington’s Club Helsinki on Wednesday ($15, 413-528-6308). . . . Also Wednesday, Twinemen, a band formed by ex-Morphine members Dana Colley and Billy Conway, will play the Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass. (7 PM, $8, 800-THE-TICK).

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