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Bert Jansch, Steve MacKay & The Radon Ensemble

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It's tempting to think of BERT JANSCH's new disc, The Black Swan (Drag City), as a comeback, but the veteran British folkie never retired from playing live or making albums--he's just recording for a hipper, more high-profile label (which also happens to be the first in the U.S. to sign him). Jansch's 60s and 70s work--as a solo artist, with the influential folk-rock-jazz group Pentangle, or in duets with fellow Pentangle guitarist John Renbourn--has become a touchstone for younger musicians, and on the new album he's practically annexed by the freak-folk crowd: he's joined by Beth Orton, Devendra Banhart, David Roback, and others, and coproducer Noah Georgeson has worked with Banhart and Joanna Newsom. Still, Jansch sounds very much himself on this casual outing. He was one of the first of the 60s British folk artists to eschew traditional songs and write his own, and he still does that, singing in a comfortable, lived-in warble and playing acoustic fingerstyle guitar that's unfussy but technically sharp and colorful. --Peter Margasak

Though STEVE MACKAY will probably always be best known for his wallpaper-peeling sax freak-outs on the Stooges' Fun House back in 1970, he's been working steadily through the years. He recently toured with the reunited Stooges (which helped quash those rumors that he died decades ago), and he's also played with the collective Smegma (see Sunday), the Turkish punk band Rashit, the Violent Femmes, Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airmen, Andre Williams, Grails, and his own Radon Ensemble. His latest, Michigan and Arcturus, was released earlier this year by the Radon collective, which runs a booking company and a network of studios as well as a label. Mackay and associates create a shivery, boiling sound, rationing out eruptions sparingly and atmospheric tension generously. The group will be joined by Yakuza reedist Bruce Lamont. --Monica Kendrick

This show is part of the Three Million Tongues Festival; see page 26 for a complete schedule. Bert Jansch headlines; Steve Mackay & the Radon Ensemble, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, and Nick Schillace open. Frankie Delmane, Folk & Violence, and Michael Young give "sideshow" performances between sets. If you're reading this on Thursday, November 16, you may still be able to catch the free Three Million Tongues preparty with Sikhara (which includes members of the Radon Ensemble) at 10 PM at Rodan, 1530 N. Milwaukee; call 773-276-7036. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12.

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