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Beppe Gambetta

Caffe Lena, Friday

Genoa, Italy-born Beppe Gam-betta is a celebrated acoustic guitarist who, according to his Web site, has studied his craft so in-depth that he wrote the first Italian manual on flatpicking and recorded several instructional videos. He founded the acclaimed Italian bluegrass band Red Wine in 1977, and has toured the world both with his group and solo. Caffe Lena’s Web site describes Gambetta’s sound as a “tapestry of traditional, original and classic tunes.” Gambetta has new projects to boast about this spring: He just released a new DVD called Beppe Gambetta and Friends Live in Genova, which features collaborators Patty Larkin, Tony McManus, Gene Parsons and more. His new CD, To the Masters, will also be released this spring. To see this Italian master at work, stop by Caffe Lena tomorrow (Friday) night. (Feb. 17, 8 PM, $12, $15, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022)



Darkest Hour, Himsa, A Life Once Lost, Acacia Strain

Saratoga winners, friday

That’s right, it’s the show- down metalheads have all been waiting for: mascara vs. Meshuggah. Two schools of Swedish metal interpreted through American metalcore are featured on this bill. Here’s the battle: the In Flames-style shredding of Darkest Hour and Himsa versus the off-time technical sludgery of A Life Once Lost and Acacia Strain (which recalls Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom”—sorry, no double-necked bass guitar here). Judging by placement on the bill, high-pitched shredding is the more commercially viable route for American metalheads. However, the drop-tuned sludge lovers could have the battle won before it even gets started as the Acacia Strain (who are known for turning their amps up to 12) may send fans home early to change their pants. They play their song “Brown Noise” tuned so low that it is rumored to induce bowel movements. (Feb. 17, 7:30 PM, $14, 1375 New Loudon Road, Latham, 783-1010)


WAMC Performing Arts Studio, Saturday

Wildfire are a bluegrass group comprising five accomplished musicians: Curt Chapman, Barry Crabtree, Darrell Webb, Phil Leadbetter, and Robert Hale. The group played together for a couple seasons as the house band at Dollywood, and then decided that they liked their sound so much that they should break away and go on tour together. Thus, we have Wildfire. Rattle of the Chains, Wildfire’s third and most recent disc on Pinecastle Records, was released last September to critical acclaim. Bluegrass Now writer Joe Ross said that they “have a smooth contemporary sound that is tightly knit with shining solos, passionate vocals and arrangements that fit like a glove.” If that isn’t a great endorsement for a bluegrass outfit, we don’t know what is. (Feb. 18, 8 PM, $15, 339 Central Ave., Albany, 465-5233)


Northern Lights, Sunday

What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend? Detroit-based drummer Vinnie Dombroski likely never needed to know the answer (“homeless”) to that question, having made the wise decision to leave his bashing days (Dombroski’s previous band Loudhouse had a minor hit with their, um, iffy cover of “Smoke On The Water” around 1990) behind him to take on the role of frontman for the band Sponge. Good choice: Sponge were responsible for a few very big tunes in the immediate post-Nirvana age—namely, “Molly (Sixteen Candles)” and “Plowed” (the one about a “world of human wreckage”). While those immensely popular tunes remain in light rotation at radio stations nationwide, he’s back on the road with a reconstituted version of the band that made him a semi-star. They’re touring to support a new album, The Man, which is full of lyrics about booze, death and fuckin’ up. So maybe he is homeless. Find out at Northern Lights this weekend, where Sponge will share a bill with post-punkers the Static Age, plus buzzworthy locals the Loyalty and Kingscastle. (Feb. 19, 7:30 PM, $14, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, 371-0012)

The Extraordinaires

Better Than Toast, Sunday

Sunday afternoons are made for music about boats. At least that’s what the Charlottesville, Va.-based Extraordinaires would like you believe, as they’ll bring their Decemberist-cum-Mangum pop to the Saratoga record/clothing store and part-time musical venue Better Than Toast this Sunday. The Extraordinaires recently released Ribbons of War, a concept-driven CD-and-book package (complete with faux library card!), chock full of seafaring imagery and homegrown indie pop. The lineup boasts members of Lux Perpetua and Look Alike; if you caught the last Better Than Toast appearance by those two acts, you should be very excited by their latest offering. Maine-based guitarist, um, extraordinaire Micah Blue Smaldone is also schedule to perform. (Feb. 19, 3 PM, $3-$5 donation, 454 Broadway, Saratoga Springs)

Crush Kill Destroy

Valentine’s, Monday

We don’t think Chicago’s Crush Kill Destroy are really going to leave a trail of wreckage, death and waste in their wake when they play at Valentine’s, although it might be worth checking the news from the cities they’ll be visiting in the run-up to Monday’s show—Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Erie and Rochester—just to be safe. What they’ll probably try to do, in their own postpunk, indie way, is make your ears bleed. Well, CKD, the Capital Region has tough, manly ears, so do your worst. Also on the bill are beloved local favorites Struction and the Face Stabbers. The former are well known for their peripatetic, loud and occasionally dazzling live performances; the latter are known for their motto, which is “your face sucked before it got stabbed by us.” All we have to say to that is, “sticks and stones, sticks and stones.” (Feb. 20, 7:30 PM, $5, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 432-6572)

Also Noted

The Erotics are at the Sky- line tonight (Thursday), along with Phillips Head and Adam Foster (9 PM, $5, 472-8150). . . . Just like Ronnie said: Eddie Money is back at Northern Lights tomorrow (Friday) night (7:30 PM, $18, 371-0012). . . . Drummer Dave Calarco brings a trio version of his “Jazz Conclave” to Justin’s for a jazztastical good time this Friday (9:30 PM, $5, 436-7008). . . . We’re guessing he lives nearby, because Jeffrey Gaines has been visiting Albany fairly often over the last few years; he’ll be at Red Square this Saturday, with guest Anna Cheek (9 PM, $15, 432-8584). . . . Songwriter Ellis Paul plays the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass., this Saturday; Matthew Hebert opens (7 PM, $18, 413-584-0610). . . . Oh, how the mighty have fallen—much like that dang placenta: Stone-faced Ed Kowalczyk and his band Live will play their first area club show in 12 years at Northern Lights on Monday (the between time spent in arenas and sheds and whatnot); Zox will open (7 PM, $35, 371-0012).

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