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Travis Morrison
Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Mass., Thursday

Ex-lead singer of Washington indie heroes Dismemberment Plan, Travis Morrison has returned with his solo album that functions as his own personal continent of musical experimentation called Travistan. While the Dismemberment Plan added samplers and hiphop to their musical repertoire to produce a fresh equation, Travis lets his influences explode all over his musical canvas. From electroclash and punk anger to full-on orchestral arrangement and acoustic soundscapes, Travis treats them all like a piece of himself rather than a gimmick. That’s what makes reviews that say his album “rocks like Prince, Ludacris and Elliot Smith” so absurd. So why not head out to the Iron Horse tonight (Thursday) and hear Travis Morrison rock like Travis Morrison? (Oct. 7, 10 PM, $10, 20 Center St., Northampton, Mass., 413-584-0610)

Bette Midler
Pepsi Arena, Thursday

Did Bette ever know she was our hero? She’s certainly everything we wish we could be: bold, funny, and talented as hell. Well, we might skip that whole Jinxed fiasco, but that’s just us. The Divine Miss M returns to the stage after a four-year absence with the Kiss My Brass! tour, a reference to both her backing band and her brassy stage persona. Her campy, lavish stage show promises big numbers, bawdy jokes, and, of course, mermaids, mermaids, mermaids. Barry Manilow, eat your heart out. (Oct. 7, 8 PM, $151.50-$41.50, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany, 476-1000)


Skidmore College, Friday

Touring in support of their new album, A Ghost Is Born—and their upcoming new book—Wilco will stop in Saratoga for a special performance at Skidmore College. According to the Skidmore Web site, A Ghost is Born, which was coproduced by the band and Jim O’Rourke, “forgoes the electronic experimentation of its celebrated predecessor in favor of a naturalistic sonic template rooted in performance and minimalist production.” Wilco are also set to release a 160-page hardcover book written by the band, with additional text by Henry Miller (in the form of an essay favored by singer Jeff Tweedy) and by novelist Rick Moody. Included with the book (which will be released on Nov. 15) is a 40-minute CD of never-before-released tracks—mostly A Ghost Is Born outtakes. (Oct. 8, 8 PM, $20, $12 students, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 580-5000)




Putumayo Latinas: Women of Latin America
Proctor’s, Saturday

The good folks at Putumayo (who have been in the world-music business for more than a decade now—where did the time go?) are bringing three renowned singers to Proctor’s Saturday night for a concert “celebrating the the soulful and inspirational music” of Latin America. Colombian singer-dancer Toto La Momposina will perform the traditional sounds of her homeland; Brazillian performer Belo Velloso will celebrate the African-influenced music of Brazil’s Bahia region; and Chilean Mariana Montalvo—a longtime exile who was forced to leave Chile at the time of the Pinochet coup—will sing music in the nueva canción tradition of the 1960s. For those who want a bit of cultural background, Proctor’s will host a Theatre Talk about the history of Latin music at 6:30 PM. (Oct. 9, 8 PM, 432 State St., Schenectady, $29.50-$19.50, 346-6204)

Karate, Chris Brokaw
Valentine’s, Tuesday

Boston’s Karate formed as an indie-emo band in the early ’90s, back when such bands weren’t quite so thick on the ground. But as they toured—and they toured like mofos, here and abroad—their sound took a turn toward the jazzier, emphasizing an improvisational style (while still staying just this side of the dangerous noodle zone). Chris Brokaw, too, has done his share of genre hopping, but that’s mostly because the guitarist-drummer has played with something like 200 bands: Come, Codeine, the Willard Grant Conspiracy, Steve Wynn . . . not a loser in the bunch. And as those of you who saw Brokaw supporting Steve Wynn during his free show at the Empire State Plaza a few years back can attest, what Brokaw can do live on guitar has just got to be seen to be believed. After that performance, dozens of local guitarists abandoned hope of rock supremecy and took up knitting. (Oct. 12 , 7 PM, $10, 17 New Scotland Ave., 432-6572)

Usher, Kanye West
Pepsi Arena, Tuesday

Yeah, yeah! Usher, the artist responsible for creating Confessions, an album that took the country by storm this year, is bringing his infectious R&B (and his rock-hard abs) to the Pepsi Arena this week. Confessions, easily the year’s best-selling album (according to the Associated Press), has helped the young artist win all sorts of awards this year, including Best Male Artist, Best Male Pop Artist and Best R&B Artist at the 2004 World Music Awards, and a whole bunch of awards at the VMAs as well. Not to mention that he’s leading the American Music Award and the Vibe Award nominations. Quite the overachiever. Kanye West, who shared the spotlight at the World Music Awards when he won the World’s Best New Artist award, will open. West released his album College Dropout in February of this year to critical acclaim, and his reputation (along with his impressive catalogue of collaborators) has been ascending rapidly. (Oct. 12, 7 PM, $58.50-$46.50, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany, 476-1000)

Also Noted
Rachael Sage

Tonight (Thursday), trot on down to Valentine’s to see the genre-defying Asylum Street SpankersRolling Stone’s Richard Skanse says that during their live performance, “the Spankers pull it off like vaudevillian pros and back it up with serious musical talent” (8 PM, $10, 432-6572). . . . Alright, y’all know that Northern Lights has been a nightclub for quite some time, so some of you may be asking yourselves, “Why would there be a grand opening party for a venue that’s been a staple in the Capital Region since the late ’90s?” Well, they are officially unveiling their newly remodeled club with a customer-appreciation night featuring Cryin’ Out Loud, Wylder and Hypnotica, so go check out the club’s facelift tomorrow (Friday) night (7 PM, 21+ free, under 21 $5, 371-0012). . . . Also on Friday, in Troy, manic-folk one-man army Hamell on Trial and anti-folk sweetheart Ember Swift will take the stage at Revolution Hall (8 PM, $12, 273-2337). . . . Lucky Ngema, one of the primary musicians behind Broadway’s The Lion King, plays a “high-energy blend of traditional South African music and afropop” at MASS MoCA on Saturday (8 PM, $16, 413-662-2111). . . . On Tuesday, celebrate Phil Ochs’ catalogue of songs with a tribute song night featuring Sonia, Magpie, Sharon Katz, Kim and Reggie Harris, Greg Greenway, Landfill Mountain Boys, Annie and the Hedonists and more at the Chapel + Cultural Center—this show is a benefit for WRPI (7 PM, $10, 274-7793). . . . Rachael Sage will make a stop at the Van Dyck on Wednesday during her Burlesque Tour in support of her new, just-released album called Ballads and Burlesque; Boston’s Mieka Pauley will open (7 PM, $5, 381-1111).

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