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David “Fathead” Newman, Bruce Katz Trio
Iron Horse, Northampton, Mass., Friday

David “Fathead” Newman got slammed with his unfortunate nickname back in high school. Instructed to read music he had already memorized, he began to play with the sheet music upside down. “You’re a fathead! You’re supposed to read the music, not memorize it!” his music teacher said, hitting him on the head. Decades later, the nickname is still around, and Newman is still doing his own thing. Having originally hit the big time as a main man in Ray Charles’ entourage, Newman went on to establish himself as a versatile solo instrumentalist on both saxophone and flute, specializing in everything from blues to ballads, swing to soul. He has also been in high demand as a sideman, as his music produced in tandem with performers from Aretha Franklin to B.B. King allows both distinct styles (his and theirs) to come through. Come see the living legacy of Fathead Newman when he’s joined by the Bruce Katz Trio at the Iron Horse on Friday. (Feb. 27, 7 PM, $18, 413-584-0610)

Dougie MacLean
The Egg, Friday

Dougie MacLean takes the traditional music of his native Scotland and blends it with the trappings of more contemporary folk to sing about his homeland. MacLean’s easy vocal style and guitar playing are reminiscent of how James Taylor might sound with a lilt. His early years were spent fiddling in the streets, which landed him playing with the Tannahill Weavers in the late 1970s. In the intervening years he has released a score of albums under his own name, and garnered attention with his compositions featured in the film Last of the Mohicans. (Feb. 27, 8 PM, $24, 473-1845)

Paranoid Social Club, As Fast As, Seven Stories Falling
Revolution Hall, Friday

Once upon a time there was a band called Rustic Overtones. They were widely loved and revered. Then one day they decided to split. After the cloud of grief dissipated, keyboardist Spencer Albee ended up in a band called Rocktopus, and singer Dave Gutter and bass player Jon Roods (who’ve been writing songs together since they were 12 years old) started a new band called Paranoid Social Club; with the addition of Marc Boisvert on drums, they have acquired a ton of fans with their mix of punk, funk and ska; you can join the masses as they storm Troy on Friday to see the Capital Region performance of Paranoid’s latest Northeast tour. Rocktopus recently changed their name to As Fast As, who, along with Seven Stories Falling, will open the show. (Feb. 27, 9:30 PM, $8, 21+, 273-2337)

Scotty Mac and the Gold Tops
Lark Tavern, Friday

Local guitar-pickin’ favorite Scotty Mac just finished a six-week tour of Germany with his band Slick Fitty, and he’s back, cultured, freshly tattooed and ready to rock with his other band, the Gold Tops. Pretty good for a guy who recently had to take a yearlong haitus for some serious recuperation as a consequence of arm surgery. The Tops also feature Pete Vumbaco and Johnny Ellis, a former member of Scotty Mac’s former band, the Rockin’ Bonnevilles. Check them out when they drop in at the Lark Tavern on Friday to play some rockabilly tunes for all you barflies. (Feb. 27, 10 PM, $3, 463-9779)

Ned Evett, Franck Vigroux
The Larkin Lounge, Friday

Fretless guitar: fact or fiction? Webster’s dictionary defines the “guitar” as a “flat-bodied string instrument with a long fretted neck.” How, then, can a fretless instrument actually be defined as a guitar? Rather than write a dissertation on the subject, we recommend that you make your way over to the Larkin Lounge tomorrow (Friday) and check out Ned Evett, one of, if not the, world’s masters of this unusual and unique instrument. Evett’s blues-jazz sounds like what might happen if Bill Frisell and Chris Whitley were to get together and jam over a bottle of vintage absinthe. He’s currently in the midst of a U.S. tour with fellow fretless guitarist Franck Vigroux. (Feb. 27, 8 PM, $8, 463-5225)

Mest, Fallout Boy, Matchbox Romance, Dynamite Boy
Saratoga Winners, Wednesday

If you like tattooed boys with lip rings, Les Pauls and lyrics about life, love and high school, then make your way to Saratoga Winners for this Wednesday night’s emoriffic pop-punk summit. Mest’s self-titled fourth album was released last June on Warner Bros., and has continued to gather steam via word of mouth, with the “Jaded” video becoming a viewer favorite on MTV2. The band haven’t stopped touring in nearly a year—they were last in town to open for Good Charlotte last October—and their latest headlining tour will being them to the ol’ Cohoes roadhouse, along with tourmates Matchbox Romance, Fallout Boy and Dynamite Boy. No word yet on whether those last two might have an onstage duel. (March 4, 8 PM, $14, 783-1010)

Also Noted

If you didn’t catch Ollabelle when they opened for Nanci Griffith at the Egg on Sunday, never fear; they’ll be at the Van Dyck tomorrow (Friday, 7, 9:30 PM, $8, 381-1111). . . . Also at the Van Dyck, on Saturday, will be jam band Garaj Mahal, featuring jazz guitarist Fareed Haque (7, 9:30 PM, $18, 381-1111). . . . Check out Grammy award winners and longtime friends Béla Fleck and Edgar Meyer when they take the stage at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass. on Saturday; the two perform bluegrass and classic fusion (8 PM, $35-$45, 413-662-2111). . . . There will be a huge lineup for an event dubbed the Leap of Faith Benefit Concert at Cheers on Sunday to raise funds for families affected by the toxic waste site at NL Industries in South Colonie: Acts include Ash Return, Krush 20, Saint and Sinners, Lagrange, Stones to Throw, Fat Rooster, Jay Dizacomo, Comfortex, Face First, Hard Tale and Serene. As an added benefit, the owner of Cheers has said that beer and burgers are on the house (1 PM, free but donations encouraged, 482-5542). . . . If you think he’s sexy and you want his body, c’mon sugar let him know when Rod Stewart plays Pepsi Arena on Monday (8 PM, $46.25-$96.25, 487-2000). . . . On Tuesday, Valentine’s will be the place to catch dada, of the 1992 single “Dizz Knee Land” fame; they were on hiatus from 1999 until March of last year; local nerd-pop pets Scientific Maps open (7:30 PM, $12, 432-6572).

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