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Steve Forbert, Charlie Orlando
Savannah’s, Thursday

Steve Forbert spent a long time defining himself as a songwriter and slipping out from under the shadow of Bob Dylan. On his most recent release, the Meridian, Miss., native illustrates just how comfortable he is in his own skin by performing an album of tribute. Not to Dylan, but to an earlier and more fitting icon—a fellow Meridian boy. Any Old Time has Forbert yodeling out—literally—12 of Jimmie Rodgers’ lesser-known songs. Though the Singing Brakeman was one of the most popular performers of the ’20s and ’30s—and arguably, the most important country music artist of all time—there are some tunes that may be new to you. And Forbert dusts ’em off and enlivens them with his own hard-won and gritty spirit. So, when Forbert hits Savannah’s tonight (Thursday), you can expect something old, something new, and a bit of the country blues. Charlie Orlando, of Dexter Grove, opens. (May 29, 9 PM, $15, 426-9647)

Agnostic Front, Murphy’s Law, Madball, Death Threat
Saratoga Winners, Thursday

It’s a program of pure, unadulterated New York City-style hardcore toplined by legendary pioneers Agnostic Front. If the Front didn’t invent NYHC (that’s short for New York Hardcore), they were first among equals at its violent, cathartic birth. The key personnel—frontman Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma—will be on hand when the Front unleash their usual punishing dose of frantic, buzzsaw guitar sonics. They have a new album out, too (Working Class Heroes), and are still pissed off. Also on the bill for this, the first date of the East Coast Assault Tour, are fellow NYHC stalwarts Murphy’s Law, Madball (featuring Miret’s little brother) and Death Threat. According to one admiring critic, Death Threat “live, sleep, eat and shit hardcore.” Amen. (May 29, 8 PM, $15, 783-1010)

John Hiatt
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Friday

John Hiatt’s songs, 25 years worth, have been covered by the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Bob Dylan. Oh, and Iggy Pop, B.B. King, Paula Abdul, Ronnie Milsap. Ah yes, and his very first solo release, back in 1974, Hangin’ Around the Observatory, contained the single “Sure as I’m Sittin’ Here”—a later hit for Three Dog Night. What makes Hiatt’s songs so desirable? Well, you can see for yourself when he performs a solo show tomorrow (Friday) at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. But we can tell you that Hiatt’s had a lot of practice in the songwriting field, as he began writing ’em as a 12-year-old boy growing up in Indianapolis. But Hiatt was seven albums into his solo career before he ever got on the charts—1987’s Bring the Family put him there, which included the future Raitt hit “Thing Called Love.” Though Hiatt’s songs work so well for others, they do pretty right by him as well. His 2000 release, Crossing Muddy Waters, earned him a Grammy nomination, and that same year Hiatt was named artist/songwriter of the year at the Nashville Music Awards. He’s also got a new album out with his longtime band the Goners, Beneath This Gruff Exterior. Also, a 10-song tribute, It’ll Come to You, the Songs of John Hiatt—with Nick Lowe, Rosanne Cash, Buddy Guy and other big shots paying respect—was recently released. (May 30, 8 PM, $27.50-$37.50, 273-0038)

Martin Sexton
The Egg, Saturday

Martin Sexton’s stripped-down and passionate approach to folk music was born as much of necessity as of preference. Busking in the busy confines of Harvard Square, this Syracuse native had to sell himself and his music—without backing strings, a choir or ProTools to help out. Soon enough, though, his intricate fretwork and soulful vocalizing (drawing on influences from Howlin’ Wolf to Robert Plant to Stevie Wonder) caught the attention of passersby. And his first few releases caught the attention of the movers and shakers: The late Timothy White, of Billboard magazine, called Sexton the “finest new male singer- songwriter of recent memory.” How ’bout that? So, on Saturday at the Egg, it’ll be Sexton—and no one else—up there onstage, presenting it stripped-down and passionate. And prepare to be impressed, because as the man himself says, “There’s a surprise element to one guy on stage sounding like three.” (May 31, 8 PM, $20, 473-1845)


PATTI SMITH

Patti Smith
Basilica Industria, Saturday

Social-activist rock legend Patti Smith will play at a new outdoor performance space, the Basilica Industria (located on the Hudson waterfront just south of Hudson’s Amtrak Station), to benefit Friends of Hudson, a group of about 3,300 citizens who are challenging the controversial coal-fired St. Lawrence Cement plant. Known for her hits “Because the Night,” “Ghost Dance” and “Gloria,” among countless others, Smith has been a constant on the rebel-female-punk-rock scene for around a quarter-century. And she is no stranger to playing benefits for the good of the environment and other important political causes. When she plays the benefit in Hudson, Smith will be accompanied by her band: Lenny Kaye, Oliver Ray, Jay Dee Daugherty and Tony Shanahan. (May 31, 8 PM, $30 advance tickets, 828-6656)

 also noted
MICHELLE BRANCH
Wondering why you’ve seen neither hide nor hair lately of area rock-a-metal artistes spineCar? Well they’ve been huddled away in the studio working on some new songs, and tonight (Thursday), you can head to the upstairs stage at Valentine’s to hear some of the new stuff; Catch Fire, Head Monster and Madeline Ferguson open (8 PM, $8, 432-6572). . . . 18-year-old Maverick Records recording artist Michelle Branch will play Northern Lights tomorrow (Friday). Her 2001 debut, The Spirit Room—the songs on which Branch either wrote or co-wrote—spawned the hit “Everywhere,” and her voice on “The Game of Love” (written by, and sounding quite a bit like, the songwriters behind the New Radicals hit “You Get What You Give”), off of Santana’s recent Shaman, is divine (7:30 doors, $20, 371-0012). . . . Wanna see if Cher’s been able to turn back time? Then check out her show at the Pepsi (if you can get tickets—it seems to be pretty sold out) on Friday, when she performs her Living Proof—The Farewell Tour (7:30 PM, $49.50-$79.50, 476-1000). . . . Country-rocker Commander Cody will maneuver his Hot Rod Lincoln to Saratoga’s Club Caroline for a show on Saturday (10 PM, $10, 580-0155). . . . Paul Kantner brings Paul Kantner’s Jefferson Starship to the Van Dyck on Saturday, and we’re just not sure what to expect. Kantner and a crew of fellow musicians were at the venue about a year ago as Jefferson Starship Acoustic Explorer—performing much of his concept album, Blows Against the Empire—and he and fellow Airplane founder Marty Balin were there in January, as Jefferson Starship with Paul Kantner and Marty Balin. We do know that former Tubes drummer Prairie Prince (who has been present at all the aforementioned passes through Schenectady) will be hitting the skins (7 and 9:30 PM, $25, 381-1111). . . . Artimus Pyle, Lynyrd’s Skynyrd’s original drummer, will perform at Joe’s Lounge in Hudson on Sunday; Good Clean Fun will open (4:30 PM, $20, 828-9028).

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