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Kill Henry Sugar
The Larkin Lounge, Friday

Erik Della Penna, frontman and songwriter for the New York City-based band Kill Henry Sugar, has an impressive résumé as a session musician: Among others, he’s worked for Joan Osborne and Natalie Merchant, but there’s more to him than that. He’s also cowritten a song, “Disney Is the Enemy,” with Mojo Nixon, but don’t judge him by that either. When he’s holding the reins, Della Penna steers a course somewhere between the poles of earnest and ironic, painting wry and intelligent tableaux in rootsy tones. We challenge you to find another musician with a song about a fascist dictator (“Mussolini”) that kicks off with a banjo. (Jan. 10, 9 PM, $5, 463-5225)

Tony Levin
The Van Dyck, Saturday

It would be impossible to label bassist Tony Levin—who’s put in time with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel, and been called upon by such choosy mothers as Lou Reed and Paul Simon—predictable. Over the course of his career, he’s progressed from tuba to Chapman Stick, from playing with the Rochester Philharmonic to playing with woodwind virtuoso Steve Gorn and drummer Jerry Marotta underground in the Widow Jane mine (check out Gorn’s album From the Caves of the Iron Mountain for the results). Fortunately, Levin is pretty regular in his touring schedule, and as a resident of Woodstock, he finds Schenectady an easy commute—and judging from the frequency of his gigs there, he finds the Van Dyck a comfy venue. (Jan. 11, 7 and 9:30 PM, $16, 381-1111)

Unearth, Endicott, Burning Bridges, Once and For All
Valentine’s, Saturday

Eastern Massachusetts-bred metal-hardcore quintet Unearth will share their songs of hope and inspiration at Valentine’s on Saturday. The kids love these guys, and gushing reviews abound on the Internet by folks enamored with their metalcore blend, powerful emotive lyrics and unique melodies. A review on allmusic.com of their 2001 release The Stings of Conscience enthuses, “Hardcore albums never sound this perfect, nor do most death or black metal albums for that matter. In fact, it would not be a stretch to announce this as the holy grail of the new breed of European metal-influenced hardcore that has sprung up recently . . .” Endicott, Burning Bridges and Once and for All open (Jan. 11, 8 PM, $10, 432-6572)

Sonya Kitchell Band
Club Helsinki, Great Barrington, Mass., Sunday

Jazz-singing prodigy Sonya Kitchell has already recorded an album—this year’s well-regarded If I Cried—and headlined at the Iron Horse Music Hall. And she’s only 13 years old. If that doesn’t make all you post- pubescent types feel washed up, Kitchell had her first notable professional gig at 10; the folks at the Special Olympics World Games heard her audition tape (Kitchell singing Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight”) and offered her a gig without realizing she was, then, only in fourth grade. Since then, Kitchell has continued to study, including summer seminars in Vermont with the great jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan. Backed by a quintet of slightly older musicians in the 17-to-19 age range, Kitchell will bring her blues-influenced style to Club Helsinki Sunday. It’s said she sings a mean “Mack the Knife”—one wonders, does she know what it’s about? (Jan. 12, 7:30 PM, $12, 413-528-3394)


DAN BERN

Dan Bern
Caffe Lena, Sunday

He’s been tagged as yet another new Dylan, but there’s more reason to listen to Dan Bern on his own merits. They both hail from the great Midwest and have some similar points of reference, and there is a familiar nasality in Bern’s voice, but the label is misleading—just as it was for Steve Forbert and John Prine and and and. Bern, like Dylan, is best known for his lyrics, but where Dylan often went for the obscurely poetic, Bern goes for pop-culture punch: “While riding down the highway with Cowboy Joe/I met Leonardo DiCaprio/Leo, he’s tryin’ to get away from/The unwanted advances of Eminem.” So, if you dig a little wit with your folk revival, you’re in luck because Bern will touch down at the Colony Café in Woodstock tomorrow (Friday) before coming up to Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs on Sunday. Take a drive, get a double dose. (Jan. 12, 7 PM, $15, $12 advance, 583-0022)

 also noted
KITTIE
Boston-based singer- songwriter Vance Gilbert will play Caffe Lena tomorrow (Friday), touring behind his latest CD, One Thru Fourteen (8 PM, $12, 583-0022). . . . Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks will provide a bit o’ “gypsy jazz,” folk, country and swing when they open up the Egg’s Roots & Branches music series Friday (8 PM, $22, 473-1845). . . . MotherJudge hosts an acoustic-rock songwriter’s showcase at the Fuze Box Friday, featuring some of her Wednesday open-mike favorites, Chris Wilhelm Band, Lanette Lynnette and David and Laura Boggs ($5, 432-4472). . . . Area country crooner Valerie DeLaCruz hosts a new songwriter’s circle at the Parting Glass in Saratoga, and on Saturday her guests will be funky-punk popster Bryan Thomas and bluesy songstress Mikki Bakken (9:30 PM, $5, 583-1916). . . . Blues-jazz singer-pianist Mose Allison (also a prolific songwriter: The Who, Van Morrison, the Clash, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayall and Eric Clapton have all covered his songs) is still going strong at a hearty 76 years old, and he’ll stop in to Great Barrington’s Club Helsinki for a show Saturday; prodigious jazz pianist Miro Sprague (the 17-year-old is a member of the Sonya Kitchell Band playing Sunday) will open (9 PM, $30, $25 advance, 413-528-6308). . . . Heavy-metal chicks Kittie will play Northern Lights Tuesday with Biohazard, 18 Visions and Brand New Sin ($15, $13 advance, 371-0012). . . . Onetime Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna member Jorma Kaukonen supplants acid rock with country picking when he brings Blue Country to the Iron Horse on Tuesday (7 PM, $22.50, 800-THE-TICK). . . . St. John’s Coffeehouse in Albany offers music the second Tuesday of each month at St. John’s Lutheran Church; this Tuesday, bluegrass outfit Blue Moon will play (7 PM, free—donations accepted, 465-7545).

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