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One of the earliest ways Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s EMPAC made its mark in the arts world—even before EMPAC’s imposing hillside structure was completed—was with their DANCE MOViES commissions. Filmmakers from all over the world have participated in the creation of films developed at and/or commissioned by RPI’s arts juggernaut; the latest five dance films will be presented Saturday night.

These are Seline Baumgartner’s Nothing Else; Orit Ben-Shitrit’s Ward of the Feral Horses; chameckilerner’s ESKASIZER & Samba #2; Dana Gingras’ Chainreaction; and Marianne Kim’s Lost & Found.

DANCE MOViES will be presented Saturday (Jan. 31) at 7 PM in the EMPAC Theater (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy). Admission is free, but for info and reservations call 276-3921.

 

 

On Friday, Hyp3fest TGIF’s Birthday Bash will take place at the Armory, hosted by DJ Iroc and featuring DJs Tek, Phaze and Ketchup (9 PM, $17, 18 and over, 512-5203). . . . Also Friday, New York City indie rocker Patti Rothberg will play the Bearsville Theater (9 PM, $10 845-679-4406). . . . And Beaked Whale will headline an all-local show at the Low Beat Friday with support from Secret Release and Rustle Crow (9 PM, $5, 432-6572). . . . On Saturday, Putnam Den will host a free Chowderfest after-party with Connecticut-based, Big Easy-styled Funky Dawgz Brass Band (4 PM, free, 584-8066). . . . Also Saturday, California Transit Authority, featuring founding Chicago member Danny Seraphine along with Bill Champlin and others, will play the hits of Chicago and more at Proctors (8 PM, $25, $20 advance, 346-62040. . . . Philadelphia alt-rockers Mo Lowda & the Humble will bring it to Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall Saturday, with Forest & the Evergreens opening (10 PM, $10, $8 advance, 413-586-8686). . . . Montreal’s genre-bending, multilingual hip-hop group Nomadic Massive will take on Mass MoCA Saturday (8 PM, $10, $5 students, 413-662-2111). . . . And on Wednesday, Greensky Bluegrass will bring their Americana and “progressive bluegrass” to Northampton’s Pearl Street Nightclub, with the Last Bison opening (8 PM, $18, $15 advance, 413-584-7771).

 

 

Nandi Rose Plunkett, daughter of an Irish-American father and Indian mother, grew up listening to Celtic and Indian music as well as Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush and Tori Amos, then studied classical music in college. Not surprisingly, in her Brooklyn-based project Half Waif, she creates a kaleidoscopic blend of sounds that conjure classical, experimental, ethnic and contemporary pop imagery, sometimes all at once. It’s dreamy, often mysterious music that can start off  like an outtake from Echoes before flowering into a full sonic wash of melodic synthpop with her heavenly voice soaring above it all. Half Waif’s debut album is Kotekan, apparently a term from Balinese gamelan music that refers to the breakdown of one melodic line into interlocking parts—or something like that. Liam Singer opens the Half Moon show.

(Feb. 3, 8 PM, 48 S. Front St., Hudson, 828-1562)

 

How in the world did an Ohio zookeeper become so darn famous?

Judging from his appearances on TV over the years, from his too-many-to-count visits with David Letterman to his own Emmy-winning, syndicated nature show Into the Wild, Hanna’s appeal is a folksy mix of solid expertise, goofy charm and irresistible critters. Tomorrow (Friday), all three of these elements will figure into the show Hanna is bringing to Schenectady, Into the Wild Live.

For the live show, Hanna will show footage of animals observed in their habitats around the world, tell stories of his various adventures and—of course—bring some real animals on stage with him. We wouldn’t mind seeing how fast a cheetah could run up and down the aisles at Proctors, but we guess that’s probably not going to happen.

Jungle Jack Hanna (we can’t resist referring to him, at least once, as “Jungle” Jack) will bring Into the Wild Live to the Mainstage at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady) tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 30) at 7:30 PM.

Tickets are $20 to $40. For more info, call the box office at 346-6204.

 

 

Since releasing their debut album in 2010, Taina Asili y La Banda Rebelde have become internationally known while remaining based here in Albany. Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Asili describes herself as carrying on “the tradition of her ancestors, fusing past and present struggles into one soulful and defiant voice.” With La Banda Rebelde, the music they make is a blend of Afro-Latin, reggae, and rock & roll, with lyrics sung in multiple languages.

They released their latest album, Fruit of Hope, last August; after tomorrow’s (Friday) gig at Albany’s Hollow, they’ll begin a monthlong tour that will take them down the East Cost to New Orleans and back, hitting (among other cities) Roanoke, Va., New York and Philadelphia along the way.

Taina Asili y La Banda Rebelde will perform Friday (Jan. 30) at 9 PM at the Hollow Bar + Kitchen (79 N. Pearl St., Albany). Admission is $10. For more info, call 426-8550.

 

 

A show packed from beginning to end with songs by George Gershwin is, by definition, of interest. And, given the emotional and comic range of the lyrics penned by George’s brother Ira, will also be a lot of fun. Nice Work If You Can Get It, which arrives tonight at Proctors for one show only, is appropriately set among the young, beautiful and rich in the “roaring ’20s,” with a wealthy playboy named Jimmy falling for a pretty young bootlegger named Billie. (Al Capone she ain’t.)

The Gershwin standards to be sung in between the comic plot complications will include “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” “But Not for Me,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and the iconic title tune.

Nice Work If You Can Get It will be presented tonight (Thursday, Jan. 29) at 8 PM on the Mainstage at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady). Tickets are $20 to $75. For more info, call the box office at 346-6204.

 

 

The New York State Writers Institute will begin its spring visiting writers series tonight (Thursday) with longtime Nation columnist and author Katha Pollitt. Descibed as “an influential voice of American feminism,” Pollitt will read from and discuss her 2014 book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, which goes a long way toward reclaiming the abortion discussion from the dominant anti-choice language and rhetoric.

The Writers Institute series will continue with Australian novelist Peter Carey (Tuesday, Feb. 3, 8 PM, Lecture Center 20); novelist and short story writer Jess Row (Feb. 10, 8 PM, PAC Recital Hall); environmental scientist and author Jennifer Jacquet (Feb. 24, 8 PM, PAC Recital Hall); and playwright-essayist Caryl Phillips (March 10, 8 PM, PAC Recital Hall).

Katha Pollitt will appear tonight (Thursday, Jan. 29) at 8 PM at the University at Albany’s Campus Center Room 375 (1400 Washington Ave., Albany). Admission is free. For more info, call the Writers Institute at 442-5620.

 

 

Tim Reynolds is a wizard.

Forget for a second that he’s the lead guitarist in Dave Matthews Band. (Although he did encourage a younger Matthews—who tended bar at a venue in Charlottesville, Va., where he performed—to pursue his music career in the ’90s. He also introduced him to most of his original band members, and some rumors suggest that he even taught him to play guitar.)

Reynolds’ speed and skill on the guitar are legendary, but he also knows his way around the piano, sitar, violin, bass and djembe as well as percussion instruments and drum machines. Oh, and he sings. Reynolds is known for his command of melody and timing, for his ability to improvise on any instrument he touches, and for his ability to work in multiple musical genres.

Tim Reynolds will perform a solo acoustic set tonight (Thursday, Jan. 29) at the College of Saint Rose’s Picotte Recital Hall (Massry Center for the Arts, 1002 Madison Ave., Albany) at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $25, $20 CSR employees, and $15 students. For more info, call 337-4871.

 

 

Russia’s Mariinsky Orchestra return to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall tonight (Thursday) as part of the Troy Chromatics Concerts series. Under the direction of Ignat Solzhenitsyn (pictured, an Avery Fisher career grant winner) the Mariinsky—who were known, back in Soviet days, as the Kirov Orchestra—will perform a deeply romantic, all-Russian program. In fact, we took one look at the lineup and wondered if Valentine’s Day had arrived early. In addition to Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 1, the Mariinsky will perform two works inspired by Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers: Prokofiev’s Suite No. 3 from Romeo and Juliet, and the Overture-Fantasy from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.

The Mariinsky Orchestra will perform Thursday (Jan. 29) at 7:30 PM at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (2nd and State streets, Troy). Tickets are $60 and $50. For more information, visit troychromaticconcerts.org or call the box office at 273-0038.

 

 

This Wednesday, Troy welcomes Austin’s “king of honky tonk,” Dale Watson, to the Hangar. Born in Alabama and raised in Texas, Dale Watson is one of the original alt-country rebels. He started spurning the commercial styles of mainstream Nashville back in the late 1980s, and has forged his own musical path ever since.

The opening act is headliner-quality, too: Rosie Flores. A sublime rockabilly artist who came out of the L.A. cowpunk scene in the 1980s, Flores is an old friend—and served as an early mentor—to Dale Watson.

Dale Watson (left) and His Lonestars with special guest Rosie Flores will perform Wednesday (Jan. 28) at 8 PM at the Hangar (675 River St., Troy). Tickets are $25. For more info, call 272-9740.