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Event Previews


Sean Altman is the founder of the group Rockapella, who had their heyday on the Emmy-winning PBS series Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (which was based on a video game inspired by the poor geography skills of American kids . . . but we’re getting sidetracked here).

And never mind kids anyway, because for this show, you’re supposed to leave them at home, “unless you’re training them to be sailors.” Altman’s gig now is Jewmongous, in which he performs “hilarious and irreverent songs about being Jewish.” With titles like “Just Too Jew for You” and “They Tried to Kill Us (We Survived, Let’s Eat),” the show promises to be, well, hilarious and irreverent.

(7 PM, $20, $18 advance, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022)


Drummer-percussionist Darren Lyons began his training as a preschooler in Rochester and went on to perform in his high school jazz ensemble there. The Darren Lyons Group, now in their 18th year, began performing at NYC’s Knitting Factory in 1996; Lyons has since played numerous notable clubs and festivals around the world, and has worked with luminaries including Manolo Badrena (Weather Report), Kilimanjaro and Marco Benevento (where have we heard that name before?). DLG will perform Saturday evening at the Madison Theater.

(Dec. 20, 8 PM, $12, $10 advance,1036 Madison Ave., Albany, 438-2094)


Matisyahu is the Hebrew stage name of Matthew Paul Miller, but though the plaintive-voiced hip-hopper incorporates Orthodox Jewish lyric themes into his reggae-heavy songwriting, his appeal is universal, which is probably why he was the opening act for Sting in 2006, following a guest spot with Trey Anastasio at Bonnaroo. The former Phish-head combines jazzy scat with Judaic hazza styles in his vocals, while his rhythms are influenced by early dancehall and pop ballads to sublimely catchy effect. This Festival of Light tour just may bring the Peace on Earth vibe we all could use a little more of. Opening is powerhouse soul vocalist Judith Hill, best known for her appearances on The Voice. (Dec. 18, 8 PM, $22, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, 371-0012)


There truly is a “cirque” for all seasons. The creators of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy are back with Cirque Dreams Holidaze. It’s a cirque show, a Broadway musical, a family entertainment and a holiday spectacular all rolled into one.

(Maybe we should have written “tumbled” into one.)

The Dallas Morning News praised Cirque Dreams Holidaze’s “jaw-dropping” acrobatics, as the show “presents a barrage of holiday ornaments that come to life and create mischief . . . [including] snowmen, sugar plums, angels, Santa and penguins.”

Cirque Dreams Holidaze will be presented Monday (Dec. 15) at 7 PM at the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., Albany).

Tickets are $28-$58, with a limited number of $100 “holiday spectacular” tickets also available.

For tickets call (800) 745-3000; for more info, please call 465-4663.



The Egg’s Family Wonders series continues this Saturday with an unusual take on that holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. In Max & Ruby’s Nutcracker a pair of rabbits, Max and Ruby—you can’t miss them here in the photo, they’re the bunnies—are siblings who “let their imaginations whisk them away to a magical land where they become characters in the beloved holiday ballet.”

We should all be so lucky.

Max & Ruby’s Nutcracker will be performed at 11 AM and 3 PM on Saturday (Dec. 13) at the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Tickets are $18, and adults accompanied by a child will be admitted free of charge. Call the box office at 473-1845 for info and tickets.



It’s time again for a seasonal gathering of the acoustic tribes, as Caffe Lena presents its annual Holiday Folk Show. Featuring John Kirk and Trish Miller (pictured), David Kiphuth and Addie & Olin, it’s a combination “Candlemas-Hanukkah-Ramadan-Solstice-Christmas-Kwanzaa-New Year-Boxing Day-Epiphany Event.” (They probably left Festivus out because, well, the airing of the grievances isn’t often joyous.)

There will be “sing-alongs, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, flute, concertina, horns and percussion” performed by well-known (and loved) regional musicians.

The Holiday Folk Show will be presented tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 12) and Saturday (Dec. 13) at 8 PM at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs).

Tickets are $22. For more info, call the club at 583-0022.



Saratoga-based Home Made Theater continues to celebrate its 30th season with a family favorite, The Jungle Book, opening tomorrow (Friday) at the Spa Little Theater. Adapted by Mila Johansen and directed by Toni Anderson-Sommo, The Jungle Book is based on Rudyard Kipling’s stories about a “man-cub,” Mowgli, raised by animals in an Indian jungle.

Pictured are (l-r) Douglas Lee Koebrich as Boobab, Drew Burke as Mowgli and Emily Farnham Mastrianni at Kaa.

Home Made Theater’s production of The Jungle Book opens Friday (Dec. 12) and runs through Dec. 21 at the Spa Little Theater (Saratoga Spa State park, Saratoga Springs).

Performances are Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays and Sundays at 1 PM; there is an additional matinee on Dec. 20 at 4:30 PM. Tickets are $18, $12 kids ages 12 and under. For more info, call 587-4427.



A native New Yorker from Buffalo, MiWi La Lupa graduated from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. He sings, writes music and plays multiple instruments and is an original member of bands Red Baraat, Thought and Knights on Earth. He’s played the White House, Madison Square Garden, Bonnaroo, Montreal Jazz Fest, Wakarusa and festivals in Brazil and all over Europe. He’s been on The Late Show, BBC, NPR, KCRW and KEXP and performed, toured and recorded with bands such as Noah and the Whale, Brazilian Girls, Spoon and more.

Long a collaborator, La Lupa recently struck out on his own and had begun work on his debut album, A New Way Home, by early 2013 with the help of industry friends enthusiastic to support his straightforward and earnest sound.

(Dec. 16, 9 PM, 48 S. Front St., Hudson, 828-1562)


Chuck Ragan was the guitarist and one of the lead singers for Hot Water Music. So. Yeah. Enough said. The Gainesville-based punk-rock band kicked ass from 1993 to 2005, when they broke up on good terms and Ragan went on to pursue a solo career in acoustic folk music until the band reunited for a tour in 2007 and then later produced a new album, Exister, in 2012. He also toured with Tim Barry (former lead singer of Avail) and Ben Nichols (of Lucero) in 2008, played with the Gaslight Anthem in 2010 and opened for Social Distortion in 2011.

Backed by his long-standing combo, the Camaraderie, Ragan is now on his “2014 Winter Haul” tour of the Northeast and Canada before heading west and then abroad. In addition to touring, the group are also working on music for the soundtrack of a brand-new BioShock video game.

(Dec. 13, 8 PM, $52, 79 N. Pearl St., 426-8550)


Robert Randolph was trained in the House of God Church on the “Sacred Steel”—what many African-American Pentecostal churches call the pedal steel guitar—and he was discovered while playing at a sacred steel convention in Florida. In fact, before the secular music world found him, Randolph says he had almost no exposure to nonreligious music. Today he can claim influences as varied as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as John Medeski and Eric Clapton as collaborators and admirers.

Robert Randolph & the Family Band will bring their infectious mix of rock, soul and funk to Helsinki on Friday—and they expect you to dance.

(Dec. 12, 9 PM, $35-$55, 405 Columbia St., Hudson, 828-4800)