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Nile, Arch Enemy, Hate Eternal, Origin
Saratoga Winner’s, Thursday

Touring in support of their recently released full-length, In Their Darkened Shrines, death metalheads Nile bring their self-described “Ithyphallic metal” to Saratoga Winners tonight (Thursday). Guitarist-vocalist Karl Sanders, drummer Tony Laureno and bassist Jon Vesanolook have been hailed the “saviors of death metal” by the online music ’zine Kerrang!, and the industrial-metal-hardcore rag Terrorizer named Nile’s album Black Seeds of Vengeance Album of the Year in 2001. (The magazine’s readers named the group Best Artist that year as well.) Tunes such as “Unas Slayer of the Gods” and “Hall of Saurian Entombment” showcase the band’s H.P. Lovecraft-inspired imagery, with Egyptian pharaohs in various scenarios of violence channeled through an avant-garde, menacing sound—Nile’s extreme speed-metal is sprinkled with African and Middle Eastern instrumentations, chants and choirs. Sanders has said of In Their Darkened Shrines, “This album will eclipse many people’s preconception of what is possible within the Death Metal idiom.” Fellow pedal stompers Arch Enemy, Hate Eternal and Origin fill out the bill. (Aug. 1, 7 PM doors, $15, $13 advance, 783-1010)

Diane Schuur
The Van Dyck, Thursday

As a child, jazz vocalist Diane Schuur was extremely shy—she was blinded at birth as the result of a hospital accident and had some trouble connecting with others. But before long, Schuur found a powerful method of communication: singing. When she was 9, she performed her first gig in her hometown of Tacoma, Wash. She continued to perform locally until she was discovered when Dizzy Gillespie pulled her on stage at the 1979 Monterey Jazz Festival. Since then, Schuur has built an impressive career in jazz music. Her voice, with its three-and-a-half octave range, has brought comparisons to jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald and Sara Vaughan, and Schuur has performed with a wide range of the greats—including everyone from B.B. King and Ray Charles to Elmo from Sesame Street. If you were to look on her mantle, you’d find the first annual Ella Fitzgerald Award and the Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award, among other honors such as Grammys and the like. Not too bad for that shy little blind girl from Tacoma. (Aug. 1, 7 and 9:30 PM, $35, 381-1111)

African-American Arts & Cultural Festival
Empire State Plaza, Saturday

While it isn’t possible to cele- brate the full range of African-American culture in a one-day event, the African-American Arts & Cultural Festival, happening Saturday at the Empire State Plaza, certainly does its best. And there’s an ambitious schedule of cultural and social events associated with this seven-hour event. Aside from the usual variety of vendors selling food, books, and crafts, there will be a slew of family activities. Over in the Egg’s Swyer Theater, kids can experience storyteller David Parker, participate in a poetry slam, or learn to play African drums. There will also be a series of workshops in the Plaza meeting rooms on diversity, elder care, and entrepreneurship, leading up to a “teen summit” on issues confronting African-American youth. As for performance, there will be a mix of musical genres on the main stage. Classic R&B is represented by headliner Oleta Adams, best remembered for her Gulf War-era smash “Get Here.” She released a new disc last year, however, and has been regularly touring with her band. Other performers include reggae trio Inner Visions, from the Virgin Islands, and the gospel singers Michael and Regina Winans. This duo, members of the legendary musical family, will perform with the Empire State Interdenominational Mass Choir. The ESIM Choir consists of local talent, with its members drawn from churches across the Capital Region. Also look for Red Clay, Lyrics, and the Chocolate Thunder Marching and Dance Band. (Aug. 3, 1 PM, free, 877-659-4377)

Liquid Soul
Washington Park, Monday

The guys in the Chicago-based ensemble Liquid Soul don’t like to be labeled, but people can’t resist trying. The group began as part of a Midwestern acid-jazz movement in the mid-1990s, so that term fit snugly for a while. Then, as the group added other influences, including funk, blues, traditional jazz and hiphop, they became pegged as having a “melting pot” sound. On their last album, they even added Middle Eastern overtones. These days, the eight-piece group consist of a solid horn section, a DJ specializing in ambient sounds, and a rapper—a combination guaranteed to confuse anyone who likes their genres neat and separate. Whatever they happen to be playing, Liquid Soul founder and saxman Mars Williams wants the audience to dance. You can oblige him on Monday at the Washington Park Lakehouse, under the stars, as the Second Wind concert series continues. (Aug. 5, 7:30 PM, free, 800-776-2992)

Mary J. Blige, Wyclef Jean
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Tuesday

Sean “Puffy/P. Diddy” Combs, Suge Knight, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill. What do all these folks have in common? They’ve all hitched themselves—as producers, advisors, or songwriters—to Mary J. Blige. Discovered when her stepfather submitted a tape of her karaoke version of Anita Baker’s “Caught up in the Rapture” to Uptown Records, Blige has continued to gain attention and respect with her combination of soulful vocals and streetwise attitude. But as the title of Blige’s latest release, No More Drama, indicates, Blige has drawn upon—rather than dwelled in—her experience growing up in the rough section of Yonkers to become a more mature artist and performer. Opening for Blige at this pavilion-only show will be Wyclef Jean. (Aug. 6, 7:30 PM, $35-$55, 476-1000)

Cracker, Sense Field, the Wait
Empire State Plaza, Wednesday

Cracker’s deep, appealing weirdness may be somewhat obscured by recollection of their alt-rock hits of the ’90s, Teen Angst” and “Low”—both of which were fist-pumping anthems of the first order. Radio-ready as those songs were, however, the bulk of the band’s work is considerably more off-kilter. Twisting strands of big, ’70s bluster and indie rock with remnants of the art-punk wackiness of front man David Lowery’s old outfit, Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker play a dusty, homespun, frontier (as in, the final frontier) version of traditional American rock. On the band’s most recent album, Forever—which critics are lauding as their best in years—Lowery presents songs with titles like “Brides of Neptune” and “Guarded by Monkeys,” just to give you a sense of where his head’s at these days. Opening will be Sense Field and the Wait. (Aug. 7, 6 PM, free, 474-5987)

also noted

A late-breaking punk-rock concert announcement: the Hudson Falcons will play a show with the Roustabouts and Tanka Ray tonight (Thursday) at Bottom’s Up in Saratoga (9 PM, $4, phoneless). . . . Southside Johnny and the Refrigerators finish off the Alive at Five concert series tonight in Tricentennial Park—or at the Corning Preserve Boat Launch if’n it rains (5 PM, free, 434-2032). . . . Schoharie-based nonreligious indie-rock trio Bible Study will play the downstairs stage at Valentine’s tonight, with long-lived pop-rock act Mancie sharing the bill (10 PM, $5, 432-6572). . . . Tomorrow (Friday) on the upstairs Valentine’s stage are Pittsburgh-based rockers the Clarks, with Antigone Rising and Primo; downstairs will be the Rochesta-based Muler, with the Day Jobs and Honeycreeper (up: 8 PM, $10; down: 10 PM, $5; 432-6572). . . . In the “ask and you shall receive” department, Super 400, voted Best Kept Secret in our Best Of issue ’cause we can never find ’em, play the Fuze Box Friday (thanks, guys); Arc will share the bill (10 PM, $5, 432-4472). . . . Montreal-based Kiss Me Deadly, Connecticut-based the Weigh Down and our very own Rockets and Blue Lights and the Switched On will play Miss Mary’s Art Space Friday (7 PM, $6, 439-0041). . . . Great Northern, who have a new 7-inch out, Rocket Fight, will play a stripped-down set outside of Saratoga’s Last Vestige on Friday (7 PM, free, 226-0811). . . . Straight outta Nashville, bluegrass band the Biscuit Boys will play Valentine’s on Monday (8 PM, $5, 432-6572).

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