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Bitch and Animal, Susan Powter

This, to put it mildly, is no run-of-the-mill club show. Those of you already familiar with these performers know what we’re talking about; those of you who have missed out on either Bitch and Animal or Susan Powter—who will play Valentine’s on Saturday—just have no idea.

The iconoclastic, feminist folk act Bitch and Animal mix genres and styles so brazenly that you may just be inclined to take at face value their professed origins, which lie “in the waning decades of the last decade [when] the sperm of a metallurgist and the sperm of a math teacher mixed with the eggs of a tap dancer/choreographer and a kindergarten teacher/artist.” The duo’s hybridization of outspoken political folk, Depression-era country, jam-band exuberance and socially conscious hiphop—unlikely as it may be—has drawn consistent critical praise, not to mention the attention of the Righteous Babe, Ani DiFranco. After an opening slot for DiFranco in Amherst, “Massatwotits,” the band were asked to stick around for the rest of the tour, and DiFranco produced their sophomore album, Eternally Hard.

Bitch and Animal’s newest release, Sour Juice and Rhyme, adds to the mix spoken word and storytelling, better approximating the freewheeling, almost cabaret-style anarchy of their live shows. The celebrations of womanhood are still there (“Areola Prayer”), as are the unflinching diagnoses of societal repressions (“Secret Candy”), but so too are odes to less controversial pleasures (“Croquet”).

Rumor has it that this will be Bitch and Animal’s last tour: They’re parting to pursue individual interests. So, strike now while the iron is hot, fans and potential fans. You may not get another chance. And even if the rumors of their demise are exaggerated, you likely will never get to see a double bill quite like this one.

On Saturday, Bitch and Animal will be joined by Susan Powter, who first came to national attention as the shock-haired, high-energy, infomercial diet queen demanding that we “stop the insanity.” The controversial weight-loss guru (at the height of her fame she was criticized for having plastic surgery) has taken on a much broader mission: In her newest book, The Politics of Stupid, Powter takes on wholesale lifestyle revision, and advises women on how to use their power as “85 percent of the consumer market” to become “queen of the aisle.” She’ll perform excerpts of her one-woman comedy show, also titled The Politics of Stupid.

Bitch and Animal, and Susan Powter, will play Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) on Saturday (March 6). Tickets for the 7:30 PM show are $12. For more information, call 432-6572.

Les Ballets Africains

Established 50 years ago by distinguished Guinean choreographer Keita Fodeba, Les Ballets Africains are widely regarded as Africa’s most accomplished touring company. Les Ballet Africains blend traditional dance, acrobatics and storytelling to the sounds of tribal instruments in their energetic performances. When the Republic of Guinea became independent, they became Guinea’s national ensemble and have acted as its cultural ambassadors, using intense touring to help foster a better understanding of Africa. And audiences worldwide have been charmed by their cheerful costumes, powerful drumming, and fast-paced footwork.

Les Ballets Africains will perform at the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) on Sunday (March 7) at 4 PM. Tickets are $22 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $11 for children. For reservations and information, call 473-1845.

Hudson River Journeys

It has been a major transportation artery, a link first for upstate New York settlement and then the original gateway for mass western expansion. It has been a source of limitless inspiration, from 19th-century artists to 21st-century balladeers. It has also been a public and private dump, and it’s in our own backyard.

We’re referring to the Hudson River, the subject of a new documentary to be broadcast Wednesday evening on WMHT. Produced by John Campbell, Paul Frederick and Artie Traum, Hudson River Journeys explores the past through the eyes of two artists. Painter Len Tantillo is a noted history painter whose re-creations of life on the river reflect the real people and industries that lined the Hudson’s banks. American music icon Pete Seeger, who put considerable effort over the last four decades into efforts supporting the river’s cleanup, is an artist who poured the river into his music.

According to WMHT, the film is “a passionate look at the people and places, now and then, that made the Hudson River what is today,” and helps point the way to what it can become tomorrow.

Hudson River Journeys will premiere Wednesday (March 10) at 8 PM on WMHT (Channel 17), and will be repeated the following Friday (March 12) at 8 PM. For more information, visit www.wmht.org.


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