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Sonny Fortune Quartet
The Van Dyck, Thursday

After playing as a sideman in the ’60s and ’70s with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Buddy Rich and Miles Davis, saxophonist Sonny Fortune seemed destined for his own share of glory. While his impact on the jazz world so far has been somewhat low-key, he has always been an in-demand sideman, and he has cut some well-received records as a leader, notably Monk’s Mood in 1993 and a refreshingly original and insightful John Coltrane tribute album in 1999. But don’t take our word for it—take H. Carl McCall’s. Yes, the New York state comptroller and Democratic gubernatorial candidate is expected to be in attendance at Fortune’s Van Dyck show, and McCall is known to have discriminating taste in jazz (OK, the event also is a McCall fundraiser, but let’s not get too hung up on details). Who knows—you might find yourself tapping your feet in time with New York’s next governor. (Aug. 22, two shows at 7 and 9:30 PM, $50, 381-1111)

Berkshire Jazz Festival
Butternut Ski Basin and other venues, Thursday-Sunday

Calling all jazz lovers! The second annual Berkshire Jazz Festival will present 20 bands on three stages this Saturday and Sunday at Butternut Basin on Route 23 in Great Barrington, Mass., plus additional performances tonight (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) at various nearby venues. From noon to 8 PM Saturday and Sunday at Butternut, the stages will be hopping with nonstop music: Among the featured artists are Maynard Ferguson, Spyro Gyra, the Caribbean Jazz Project, Hank Jones and Chico Hamilton. Jam sessions, music workshops, food and crafts add to the packed-to-the-brim weekend in the Berkshires. The festival actually begins tonight (Thursday) with a free 6 PM performance by festival producer/founder Mark Morganelli with his band, the Jazz Forum All-Stars, at the Norman Rockwell Museum (Route 183, Stockbridge). Friday night has been deemed Berkshire Club Night, featuring local jazz acts at seven participating venues including Union Bar & Grill, Cheesecake Charlie’s and Club Helsinki. (Aug. 22-25, $60 for both days, $37.50 for one day, $40 for both days kids and seniors, $25 for one day kids and seniors, 476-1000 or 914-631-1000.)

Skinless, Disciples of Berkowitz, Traumaside, Thunderclad, Irate
Saratoga Winners, Saturday

Severely distorted guitars machine-gun strummed, rapid-fire double-bass pedal drumming in bursts, vocals projected directly from the bowels of hell—and somewhere in that mess there’s a bass player. Those are the sounds of death metal at its finest. Those also happen to be the sounds of Saratoga’s own Skinless. The group, known for their over-the-top live performances, will be at Saratoga Winners Saturday for a CD-release show. The quartet of darkness, comprising vocalist Sherwood Webber, guitarist Noah Carpenter, drummer Bob Beaulac and bassist Joe Keyser, will be handing out copies of their new CD-single Miscreant, an enhanced disc featuring new material recorded during the group’s Roaming America Tour earlier this summer. Fresh off of last month’s stop at the Milwaukee Metal Fest, Skinless will play Winners before embarking on a mini-East Coast tour with Six Feet Under. Rounding out the bill of underground metal brutality are Albany’s psychotic rockers Disciples of Berkowitz (who just finished work for their new album Chronicles), Traumaside, Thunderhead and Irate. (Aug. 24, 8 PM, $12, 783-1010)

Paul Westerberg
Pearl Street, Northampton, Mass., Saturday

He might be a father, and he sure is a dad. Yeah, Paul Westerberg, lead singer and songwriter for the legendary Replacements and solo artist since the ’Mats broke up back in 1991, has been keeping a low profile for the last several years, mostly staying at home in Minnesota and hanging out with his young son. Oh, and he’s been writing songs, too, which led to the release this year of a complex two-album project on the Vagrant label, Stereo and Mono, the latter released under his sometime- pseudonym Grandpaboy. While Westerberg probably will never recapture the naive, sloppy charm of early Replacements material (and c’mon, why would he want to—he’s a dad now, for chrissakes!), critics are hailing Stereo as an older, wiser, subtler and sparer version of Westerberg with his old emotional resonance back in place, and Mono as a return to traditional rock & roll with plenty of swagger—and not the kind that comes from drinking 12 beers in 45 minutes. Westerberg claims to be pretty happy with his new stuff too, which explains why he’s taken temporary leave of his Dr. Seuss-reading duties to hit the road again. (Aug. 24, 8:30 PM, $20, 800-THE-TICK)

Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saturday

What Van Halen fan doesn’t remember when Sammy Hagar took over frontman duties after David Lee Roth vacated the position in 1985? Who doesn’t know how much these guys hate each other? Whose mother doesn’t know the animosity between the two towheads? And while most fans have their favorite Van Halen frontfella (Roth), they can now see both of ’em on one stage at one time (perhaps they joined in a mutual hatred for Eddie). Roth led Van Halen through the mid-’70s and the early ’80s and through six mega-platinum albums, and left the band badly (although he did return for a spell after Hagar departed to record a couple songs for a greatest-hits album before getting the boot once again). Hagar joined up on Roth’s departure, saw the band through a bunch more albums of the multi-platinum sort, and was shown the door as well. The two egomaniacal onetime frontguys will play SPAC on Saturday. (Aug. 24, 7:30 PM, $35-$65, 476-1000)

Kevin Blechdom, Goodiepal
West Hall, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Wednesday

Kevin Blechdom is actually Kristin Erickson, and the Florida native has taken her early lessons in piano to new and interesting heights. Blechdom first played her instrument of choice with Adult Rodeo, an Austin, Texas, band who put out a couple of albums on Kramer’s Shimmy Disc label and toured the states and Europe with Kramer and Jad Fair. Blechdom then got interested in computer music at San Francisco’s Mills College, where she learned to program software (all of her present music is generated by software she herself programmed) and began Blectum From Blechdom with a friend. She’s got a couple of solo EPs out on tigerbeat6, The Inside Story and I Heart Presets (the latter of which contains a too-cool-for-words rendition of Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer”), and on Wednesday at RPI, she’ll sing and play two laptops, a banjo and a strap-on MIDI as the kickoff for the iEAR presents! fall season. Danish electronic musician Goodiepal shares the bill. (Aug. 28, 8 PM, $5, $3 RPI community, 276-4829)

also noted

Intimate duo Jen Chapin (vocals) and Stephan Crump (bass) will play tonight (Thursday) at Great Barrington’s Club Helsinki (9 PM, $12, $10 advance, 413-528-6308). . . . Zydeco master Terrance Simien will play tonight at the Guilderland Performing Arts Center (7:30 PM, free, 355-0890). . . . Secretguy are threatening to call it a day, playing their last show tomorrow (Friday) on the downstairs stage at Valentine’s—a Black Sabbath tribute, no less. Sharing the bill are Clawdaddy, Wood, Jason Martin and the Regurgitones, John Brodeur, 5 Alpha Beatdown, Hungry Jack and the Lawn Sausages. See your favorite Sabbath tunes performed by some of our area’s most deranged and delightful (an oxymoron perhaps), and make sure to sock the Secretguys on their nozzles for getting us hooked and leaving us wanting (8 PM, $5, 432-6572). . . . Gay Tastee & Scout will play a kid-oriented, cuss-free set at Miss Mary’s Art Space Friday, followed by performances by Troy Pohl and Lincoln Money Shot; then Tastee and Scout will again take the stage for a late-night swearfest (7:30 PM, 439-0041, . . . Blackcat Elliot will play their last show with bassist Jamie St. Denis on Friday, and new band Scrapper (featuring a couple of members of old band 100 Acre Wood) will open (9 PM, 238-2788). . . . Dave Walsh and Nelson Gage will play a mix of swing and bluegrass at Miss Mary’s on Saturday as a benefit for the venue. The evening also features a screening of the 14-minute-long Poopampareno, a film produced by Walsh and Scott Freedman, aka Unfortunate Face Productions (8 PM, $10, 439-0041). . . . On Sunday, Northern Lights hosts Rockfest at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, featuring Dokken, L.A. Guns, Warrant, Ratt and Firehouse. Gates open for the all-day festival at 11 AM, and there will local bands playing prior to the mainstage activities as well as vendors and backstage pass giveaways ($30, $25 advance, 371-0012). . . . Jazz guitarist Mike DiMicco will join Laurel Masse at the WAMC Performing Arts Studio on Wednesday (8 PM, $5, 465-5233, ext. 4).

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