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Tarbox Ramblers
Club Helsinki, Great Barrington, Mass., Saturday

Those with the good fortune to have seen the Tarbox Ramblers on their last visit to Club Helsinki raved about the acoustic combo’s serious-as-a-heart-attack roots music. Specializing in pre-World War II hillbilly, country blues, and gospel music, the Ramblers have pleased (and frightened) audiences with their traditional sound. And the critics? Big-time papers have given them nothing but raves: “At once reminiscent of the past, yet wholly original,” sayeth The Washington Post, and “intoxicatingly original,” quoth The Boston Globe. As Michael Tarbox put it, “I want to put folk music back in the barrooms—where it really belongs.” This ain’t your hippie grandad’s folk music, either—it’s sinnin’ and death and the devil himself (you’ll be more likely to hear “Oh Death” or “Devil Got My Woman” than “Mr. Tambourine Man”). Now that sounds like a hell of a time. (Sept. 28, 8:30 PM, $15, 413-528-3394).

50 Man Machine CD-Release Party
Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, Saturday

If you’re at all like us, the term “world music” sends shivers through you the way the term “new age” once did. Seems any hack with formless songs and a didgeridoo can lay claim to the term, and for marketing purposes does. On Saturday, however, Caffe Lena will host a CD-release party for 50 Man Machine, who can use the tag with head held high: Singer-songwriter Collier Hyams, though American-born, grew up in Thailand and Bavaria, and his bandmates—a DJ from Barbados, a steel-pan player, a gospel drummer, Patti Labelle’s bassist, and a bagpiper (Neil Anderson, the cofounder of Celtic roots-rockers Seven Nations)—add even more international elements. And the global vibe isn’t confined to the lineup’s personal histories. The band cites as influences “pop, scots, jazz, rock, funk, gospel, hiphop, afropop, soca, reggae, calypso . . . and, um . . . Jimi Hendrix.” (Sept. 28, 9 PM, $10, 583-0022)

Riverfront Jazz Festival
Hudson Riverfront Amphitheater, Corning Preserve, Saturday

You probably thought that with the arrival of fall, there would be nothing left to do outdoors except leaf peeping—until all the leaves hit the ground, anyway. Not so. The outdoor festival season is not over yet. The city of Albany presents the Riverfront Jazz Festival this Saturday, and the lineup is truly impressive. Diane Reeves is the headliner, and, simply put, she’s one of the best jazz singers around. Having effortlessly traversed musical territory from jazz to soul to pop and back, Reeves is riding high on her recent album, The Calling, a tribute to the legendary Sarah Vaughan. (Reeves can sing “Lullabye of Birdland” in the same class as the divine Sarah—she’s the real deal.) There will also be an all-star tribute to Nick Brignola, featuring Randy Brecker, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Cedar Walton, Tootie Heath and Dave Williams. Also performing: Two Siberians, an electric guitar-electric violin duo actually from Siberia; smooth-jazz saxman Euge Groove; and flute virtuoso Nestor Torres. Last but certainly not least, there’s Albany’s own Adrian Cohen Trio—the only local group invited to perform. (Sept. 28, noon-7 PM, free, 434-2032)

Victoria Williams, Mark Olson and the Creekdippers
Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Mass., Sunday

The family that plays together stays together, they say. And the family that plays together in a home studio on property adjacent to Joshua Tree national park in Southern California stays together mellow. Victoria Williams and hubby Mark Olson lead just such a life, but the idyllic and peaceful setting hasn’t prevented them from being productive: They’re on the road now (stopping in at the Iron Horse on Sunday), celebrating the releases of Williams’ album Sings Some Ol’ Songs and Olson and the Creekdippers’ new one, December’s Child. Williams’ album is notable in that it’s the first she’s released without an original track: She covers pop classics such as “Moon River,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans.” Olson’s album has some trivial appeal as well: For the first time since the 1995 breakup of the Jayhawks, Olson has collaborated with former bandmate Gary Louris. (Sept. 29, 7 PM, $11, 800-THE-TICK)

Kristin Norderval

Kristin Norderval
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, West Hall, Wednesday

Though classically trained as a singer and composer, Kristin Norderval is anything but traditional. Just take a look at the lineup for her performance—which she developed in residence at RPI’s iEAR studios—at West Hall on Wednesday: Norderval will stage an evening of “interactive music for voice, electronics and other instruments” with the assistance of trombonist Monique Buzzarté and poet Barbara Barg. Honestly, when was the last time you saw a concert for trombone, poetry and electronics? Norderval’s eclectic, genre- defying work has won her the attention and praise of commentators such as The New York Times and The Village Voice, which chose Norderval as one of “new music’s best.” After the performance, Norderval and other artists will participate in Awakening, an all-night peace vigil that will happen simultaneously with a related vigil in Nevada City, Calif., organized by Terry Riley, Utah Phillips and Mikail Graham. (Oct. 2, 8 PM, $5, 276-4829)

Aimee Mann
Calvin Theatre, Northampton, Mass., Wednesday

One reviewer of Aimee Mann’s recently released album, Lost in Space, approvingly noted her “seductively droll delivery.” No kidding; Mann’s sense of humor comes through in her music and in person. When asked what she thought about having made music for almost 20 years, she laughed: “That’s horrifying. No wonder I’m so tired.” Ever since her long-ago days in ’Til Tuesday, Mann has been writing and performing lacerating-yet-thoughtful songs about everything from love to the music business to addiction—with Mann, those three topics amount to the same thing. Her gorgeous sense of pop songcraft has put her outside the mainstream, but has also helped attract a devoted fan base and numerous critical plaudits—as well as an Oscar nomination for her soundtrack to Magnolia. She’s touring with a full band, in support of a new album. What more could you want? (Oct. 2, 8 PM, $22.50, $27.50, $35, 800-THE-TICK)

 also noted
Brand New

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, aka folk-rock duo Indigo Girls, will stop in at Schenectady’s Proctor’s Theater tonight (Thursday) as part of the tour behind their newest release, Become You; K’s Choice will open the show (8 PM, $27-$33, 476-1000). . . . Joan Osborne just released How Sweet It Is, a Sept. 11-inspired album full of ’60s and ’70s soul and R&B covers, and she’s playing tonight at Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton, Mass., with Willie King & the Liberators opening, and tomorrow (Friday) at Clifton Park’s Northern Lights, with Margaret Valentine opening (Thu: 8:30 PM, $17.50, 800-THE-TICK; Fri: 7:30 PM doors, $14, 12 advance, 371-0012). . . . In the “show to make your ears ring and your assholes bleed” department this week, Small Axe, Glitter of Cohoes, the Sixfifteens and Bible Study will play Saratoga’s Club Caroline Friday (9 PM, $7, 580-0155). . . . The all-female Brazilian country band (you know, that one), Iabas, will perform in Hudson Valley Community College’s Maureen Stapleton Theatre Friday; the group’s sound is described as a “mix of urban and country music with rhythms of Yoruba, Amazon and Portuguese traditions.” Where else can you get that? (8 PM, $10, 629-4TIX). . . . The first in a series of concerts at the Junior Museum’s Lally Planetarium takes place Friday: Evidence, laptop musicians Stephan Moore and Scott Smallwood will play in accompaniment to the simulated stars (7 PM, $5, 235-2120). . . . Brand New, Armor for Sleep, Little Yellow Box and the Flying Bobbz will play a punk-pop show at Union College’s Old Chapel on Friday (7:30 PM, $5, 388-6118). . . . Bystanderfanzine will put on a DIY hardcore show at Miss Mary’s Art Space on Saturday, with After the Fall, Celebrity Roast, the Funeral and Slugworth performing (7 PM, $5, 439-0041, http://missmarysartspace. . . . Singer-songwriter-pianist Bruce Hornsby will open the American Roots & Branches 2002-03 concert series at the Egg with a show on Sunday (7 PM, $29.50, $32.50, 473-1845).

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