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John Hiatt and the Combo

The Egg, Thursday

We appreciate a strong work ethic, and that’s one of the many reasons we love John Hiatt. Over 36 years he’s released 18 studio albums, including this year’s The Open Road. That’s one hell of a cycle to maintain. To date, his longest stretch between records was a four-year span, 30 years ago. Makes us feel like a bunch of slackers, honestly. His sticktuitiveness has also brought him to the Capital Region more times than we can count, including a number of free concerts. The open road leads Hiatt and his band to Albany again this week, though you’ll have to pay this time around. (March 4, 7:30 PM, $34.50, Empire State Plaza, Albany, 473-1845)

John Ellis and Double-Wide

Red Square, Thursday

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that there ought to be more sousaphones in contemporary music. Thankfully, jazz saxophonist John Ellis also agrees. For his New Orleans-oriented solo band, Double-Wide, the longtime Charlie Hunter and John Patitucci collaborator has hired Matt Perrine to hold down the low end on that strange and sizable relative of the tuba. The addition is for more than toots and giggles, though, as these guys groove something fierce, but they’ve certainly got a sense of humor about themselves, too. Their new album, Puppet Mischief, is a playful homage to NOLA greats like Professor Longhair, featuring plenty of trombone and harmonica. (March 4, 8 PM, $12, 388 Broadway, Albany, 465-0444)

The Blasters

Valentine’s, Friday

In which we take the banner of this section very seriously. Should you take note of the Blasters at Valentine’s on Friday? Uh . . . yeah. Founded in 1979 by the Alvin brothers, the Blasters quickly gained a reputation and a die-hard following in L.A.’s punk-influenced rock scene. The band’s respect for the variety of American roots music showed in their top-notch songwriting; and their belief in such forms as communal and celebratory experiences in the furor of their live shows. Alongside the likes of X and the Gun Club, the Blasters helped lay the groundwork for what would later be called alt-country. (And help kick-start the careers of tourmates Los Lobos and Dwight Yoakam, specifically.) Tomorrow (Friday), it’s the near-original lineup (guitarist Keith Wyatt is holding down guitar duties for Dave Alvin). So, this is a chance to see one of the few American institutions that fairly deserves the term “rip-roarin’.” (March 5, 8 PM, $17, 17 New Scotland Ave., 432-6572)

Richie Havens

Richie Havens

The Eighth Step, Saturday

If you were Richie Havens, you’d wear the rings too. The original king of bling still sports rings on each of his fingers, because, well, why wouldn’t he? Much about Havens remains as you remember it from his iconic festival- opening performance at Woodstock some 41 years ago. His beard has grayed, but his voice is still rich, perfectly recognizable and seemingly untouched by time; his open-tuned guitar style just as percussive and unique. Havens’ latest solo release came in 2008 (Nobody Left to Crown), but he recently collaborated with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a track on their new Preservation compilation, which hit stores last month. To call Havens an American treasure wouldn’t be superlative. (March 6, 7:30 PM, $28-$35, GE Theatre at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady, 434-1703)


Northern Lights, Saturday

They’ve been a third-wave garage revival act, a rip-snort bar band, and an Oasis knockoff, and that was just on their first album. They also became the butt of a million jokes—most notoriously, a Pitchfork review of their second album was simply an embedded video of a chimpanzee peeing in its own mouth. Very funny, but let’s be honest: Why would a multimillion-selling rock band care about the opinions of a bunch of territory-marking moustache-groomers? No matter what your opinion on the band’s music, there’s no escaping “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” a song that remains positively ubiquitous seven years after its release. Last laugh: Jet. (March 6, 7 PM, $16, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, 371-0012)

Ben Sollee, Daniel Martin Moore

The Linda, Tuesday

Kentuckians Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore’s musical biographies are nearly interchangeable, each garnering a wave of praise in recent years for surprise debuts of simple folk material, but what brings them together on Tuesday is a shared concern for one of their home state’s most destructive practices: mountaintop removal coal mining. The two teamed up with fellow Kentuckian Jim James (My Morning Jacket) for Dear Companion, an album exploring the issue and the Appalachian people it affects. A portion of the proceeds from the show will help fund Appalachian Voices, a group committed to ending mountaintop removal. (March 9, 8 PM, $16, 339 Central Ave., Albany, 465-5233)

Also Noted

The Celtic music will be plentiful in the coming weeks, but you’re probably not going to see another German Irish band—Cara will play at Old Songs tomorrow (Friday, 8 PM, $20, 765-2815). . . . New York progressive jam band U-Melt celebrate the release of their new album, Perfect World, at Jillian’s on Friday; Timbre Coup open (10 PM, $13, 432-1997). . . . Alabama-via-New York City (via Catskill) roots-rockers George Kilby Jr. and the Road Dogs play locally twice this week: at Franklin’s Tower on Friday (9 PM, 431-1920) and the Ale House on Wednesday (9 PM, free, 272-9740). . . . Brown Bird, the Charlie Watts Riots, Pony in the Pancake, and the Landlines play a show presented by Hello Pretty City at Valentine’s on Saturday; be sure to catch it, because these only happen about once every five years (8 PM, $8, 432-6572). . . . The sounds of modern rock get filtered through the nimble fingers of Christopher O’Riley on Sunday at the Egg; O’Riley’s latest release, Out of My Hands, finds the concert pianist performing the works of Cobain (Nirvana), Morrissey-Marr (the Smiths), and Wright-Waters (Pink Floyd), among others (3 PM, $20-$28, 473-1845). . . . In Lake George on Sunday, it’s the 19th annual Bands ’N Beans, a chili-cooking contest and music festival featuring regional talent like Big Medicine, Alan Payette Band, and Tequila Mockingbirds (2 PM, $20, 668-2616). . . . Ship up to Albany for some Celtic punk-rock on Tuesday night, courtesy of Chicago’s Tossers; Outernational and Honeycreeper open (7 PM, $12, 432-6572).

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