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The A.M., Martly
Valentine’s, Friday

Two-thirds of the A.M., guitarist-vocalist Michael Tighe and drummer- vocalist Parker Kindred, used to play with Jeff Buckley—which would seem a big shadow out of which to step. Buckley’s untimely death at 27, viewed against the backdrop of his alternatingly forceful and fragile music, has made of him a romantic martyr, a Keatsian figure. The A.M. couldn’t be blamed if they sought to distance themselves from their mythic predecessor. But, to their credit, they don’t. They readily evoke Buckley, in name and seemingly in spirit: They describe themselves as “at once passionate, fragile and beautiful . . . sometimes dark and sometimes joyous but always magnificent.” They cite as influences David Bowie, T. Rex, Prince, Roxy Music and Neil Young circa After the Gold Rush. They claim that the A.M. belong to the “half-dream states where universal and personal themes connect to form songs of stark realization and hope.” Hmm. Sound like anybody you remember? Joining the A.M. at Valentine’s on Friday are Albany’s Martly. (Aug. 29, 8 PM, $8, 432-6572)

moe.down
Snow Ridge Ski Area, Turin, Friday-Saturday

For the fourth time now, the organizers of moe.down have put together a lineup of bands that one would otherwise never expect to see performing on the same stage. This weekend, the Snow Ridge Ski Area in Turin (Lewis County, north of Utica) will host the catchy absurdist pop of They Might Be Giants, the modernized bluegrass of Yonder Mountain String Band, the tribal funk of Rusted Root, the spacey pop of the Flaming Lips (who served as both the opening act and backup band for Beck on part of his recent tour) and the classic-rock-influenced sounds of Antigone Rising. Moe., the organizers of the festival and the resident princes of the jam-band scene (the band recently received the “Jammy Award” for their performance at last year’s Bonnaroo Festival), will also take their place on stage over the course of the weekend, doing their best, as always, to defy the radio standard of the three-minutes-or-less pop song. Rounding out the lineup will be more than a dozen other bands of various sounds, styles, and composition, spread out over two stages. Camping is available beginning at noon on Friday; the first band will take the stage just after 5 PM. (Aug. 29-31, $95 advance, $100 day of show, 315-348-8456)

Tanglewood Jazz Festival
Tanglewood, Lenox, Mass., Friday-Sunday

As if you needed a reason to spend Labor Day weekend among the splendors of the Berkshires, Tanglewood is concluding their summer schedule with the annual jazz festival. The lineup is even stronger than in recent years, and appropriately jazz-oriented (in other words, no rock or electric blues artists masquerading as jazzsters). Highlights include a taping of Marian McPartland’s venerable Piano Jazz with multi-Grammy-winning whiz kid Norah Jones, and performances by such jazz luminaries as genre-bender Cassandra Wilson, Latin-jazz combo Kenny Barron’s Cantra Brasil, old-school standard-bearers the Wynton Marsalis Septet, Natalie Cole (sure, she’s pop, but she can swing a tune with the best of ’em), Gato Barbieri, Hiromi and a special tribute/memorial to the Modern Jazz Quartet with Donal Fox. Events are held Friday through Sunday evenings, with matinees on Saturday and Sunday; venues include the Tanglewood Theatre and Ozawa Hall. Visit www.bso.org for details. (Aug. 29-31, various times, $57-$15, 413-637-5165)

MIDTOWN

Patti Rothberg, Sirsy
The Larkin Lounge, Sunday

The buzz surrounding Patti Rothberg’s 1996 debut album, Between the 1 and the 9, was significant, and justifiable. The New York City-based singer-songwriter presented songs of forthright emotionality with prodigious musical skill (though her intimate and expressive vocals caught many ears, it should also be noted that Rothberg handled all the guitar and bass responsibilities on the that album as well). As happens all too often, however, a collapsing label (and, perhaps, the residual and too-broad effects of an anti-Alanis Morissette backlash) left Rothberg high and dry; it’s only now that she’s getting around to releasing her sophomore album, Candelabra Cadabra. The release is arguably overdue, but according to critics, well worth the wait. One succinct reviewer put not too fine a point on things for us, “Rothberg is real—and says stuff that matters.” When Rothberg plays the Larkin on Sunday, she will be joined by local favorites Sirsy. (Aug. 31, 8 PM, $10, 463-5225)

Black August: Underground Hiphop and Spoken Word
Artist’s All Faith Center, Sunday

Broadcast Live, a new area en-semble fronted by activist-poet Victorio Reyes, will perform spoken-word poetry and hiphop music at Sunday’s Black August event at the Artist’s All Faith Center. Broadcast Live strive to empower people through hiphop and poetry, which is also the goal of the Black August movement—which originated in the California penal system to honor fallen Freedom Fighters. Concerts for the movement have taken place in New York City, South Africa and Cuba. A goal of the movement is to “bring culture and politics together and to allow them to naturally evolve into a unique hiphop consciousness that informs our collective struggle for a more just, equitable and human world.” Other performers for the event, which is a benefit for the Jericho Movement (a political-prisoner support group) are NYC-based Zest Rock and Tracy Jones, who perform spoken word over beats; singer-songwriter Alisa Sikelianos; area spoken-word artists Talib and Indigo; and the cream of the crop of the monthly Soul Kitchen spoken-word event. (Aug. 31, 8 PM, $6, 436-0929)

Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, Jim Lauderdale, the Hunger Mountain Boys
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Mass., Sunday

At 75, Ralph Stanley is a living history of bluegrass and Appalachian music. His age has come to augment the power of his rich and forlorn songs, as well as the creaky timbre lingering behind his mountain voice. Said voice became familiar to many from his contributions to the successful film soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which garnered him many new fans. Including recognition for his work on O Brother, Stanley has won three Grammys in the last two years. Stanley’s new eponymous record, produced by T-Bone Burnett, consists of old folk songs, many of which were first recorded the 1920s and ’30s—but some are so old that they predate recording. According to Burnett, the songs were chosen from the American folk lexicon to accent Stanley’s honest and straightforward vocal style. On Sunday at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Mass., Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys will perform with Jim Lauderdale, with whom Stanley shares a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for their 2002 album Lost in the Lonesome Pines. Local bluegrass duo the Hunger Mountain Boys open. (Aug. 31, 7 PM; $37, $42, or $47, 413-528-3394)

 also noted
Texas swing ensemble Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys will perform at Club Helsinki in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday (9 PM, $15, 413-528-3394). . . .Critical darlings Steely Dan are well known for their recording prowess (debates on the subject are sparked nearly every minute in the United States alone), but their live shows are nothing to smirk at. They tend to bring as many talented musicians with them as will fit on stage. The Dan last toured in 2000 following the release of their first studio album in 20 years, Two Against Nature—for which they collected four Grammys—and they’ll play SPAC on Friday in support of their summer Reprise release, Everything Must Go. (7:30 PM, $65, $85, lawn $25, 476-1000). . . . Northampton, Mass.-based Indie-pop band School for the Dead, composed of some of the psychedelic-pop band Aloha Steamtrain crew, will make their way to the Larkin Saturday, with Mike G opening (8 PM, $5, 463-5225). . . . It’s Final Stretch Weekend in the Spa City, a farewell to the ponies on the last weekend of the racing season, so expect music to ring from the sidewalks (along Broadway from the City Center to the Eddie Bauer store, to be exact) on Saturday and Sunday. The acts: doo wop group the GTO’s; jazz and pop artists April Marie Trio, with Peg and Bill Delaney; former Donnybrook Fair member Jeff Strange; traditional harmonizers Big Medicine; pop quartet Phil Henry Band; acoustic jazzy-pop artist Sinem; singer- songwriter Bob Warren, accompanied by a crew of talented friends; lead vocalists for Area Code 518, aka the Classics with Wayne & Joey, will provide Motown, country and oldies classics; and Kelly Caton-Hurley, along with a posse of esteemed musicians, will offer up pop, rock and soul sounds (7 PM, free, 587-8635).

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