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Nightlife Highlights: July 2004 

JULY 17: The next wave of regional Latin-jazz is led by Christine Spero, a husky-voiced pianist with a caliente combo.  This Greene-county-based group performs original tunes in a style reminiscent of Bebel Gilberto or Roberta Flack.  The band, led by Christine's partner Elliot Spero, works a tight groove but remains flexible to bend and weave with her soaring scats.  The colonial Stissing House provides an elegant backdrop for this musical trip to the tropics.  (Spero's busy summer schedule also includes two shows in Kingston; July 23 at Forum and July 30 at The Uptown.) 8PM.  Pine Plains.  No cover with dinner.  (518) 398-8800.

JULY 22-25: This 16-year-old festival rules because it casts a wide net into folk and related music.  A small sampling of the line-up is tribute to founder Howard Randall's vision: Greg Brown, Sloan Wainwright, Steve Forbert, Richie Havens, Erin Mckeown, and dozens of others.  Falcon Ridge is now so well-organized that in addition to offering food, dancing, workshops, and a comprehensive camping area, all events are handicapped-accessible and most will be interpreted in American Sign Language.  9AM doors (4-day campers allowed in the afternoon of July 21.) Day passes start at $25; kids under 12 free.  Hillsdale, NY.  (866) 325-2744.

JULY 23: Good news, amigo: this town IS big enough for two Latin dance/jazz bands.  Purists are quick to point out that Sonando are technically salseros, playing the merengue and son of traditional dance orchestras.  But a new groove bursts wide open with the joyful jams of Mambo Kikongo.  Drummer Carlos Valdez leads top-shelf Latin-jazz talent featuring, among others, Peter Buettner on sax and pianist Paul Duffy.  And don't think anyone is immune to the Rondout's waterside allure.  You may go to El Coqui for the authentic Puerto Rican food and drink, but once the music heats up, it's time to work off those mofongos.  9PM.  $5.  Kingston.  (845) 340-1106.


JULY 23: Props to Stone Ridge Center for the Arts, the venue and HQ of world music impressario Robert Mann and his crew.  Why?  Many reasons, including a successful appeal to Congressman Hinchey to continue the Cuban-American musicans' exchange; heading the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston (POOK) and its off-shoot, Energy Hip-Hop dance troupe; and for bringing talent like Madagascar's D'Gary to their restored Stone Ridge space.  D'Gary, a self-taught musician born to a shepherd in the southern Bara region, plays six-string guitar.  But he impressed Jon Pareles of the New York Times to gush, "yet he makes his instrument sound like whole families of Madagascar's small and full-sized lutes, picking out quick patterns that pelt like a syncopated tropical downpour."  Preview this WKZE-sponsored show with a listen to D'Gary's latest, Mbo Loza (Indigo/Harmonia Mundi.) 8PM.  $20.  Stone Ridge.  (845) 687-8890.

JULY 30-31: New Orleans-based Mem Shannon headlines this year's Clermont festival, but don't miss the overflow of other talent, including Professor Louie and the Crowmatix, Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers, Bobby Ray Bishop's Blues Syndicate and others.  Food, beverage, craft, and souvenir vendors will also be on hand.  The Columbia County estate is between Rhinebeck and Germantown on Route 9G.  6PM Friday, Noon Saturday.  $20, $14 advance, kids under 14 free.  Clermont.  (518) 537-4240.

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