I had every intention of sending you to a show tonight at the North Star Music Cafe, aka one of my favorite satellite offices, aka one of my favorite live music venues. That is, until the hard-to-swallow e-mail arrived from owner Kim Anderson announcing the closing of the venue this past Sunday. They just couldn’t make ends meet anymore.

It was a sobering blow, and I’m still reeling from it. I know I speak for a heck of a lot of people when I say that I’m stunned and saddened but wish all the best for Anderson and everyone else who has put their heart and soul into the North Star over these past three years. I’ve heard a lot of great music, drank a lot of decaf and wrote quite a few of these columns in that place. You’ll be sorely missed, North Star.

Thankfully, the shows go on elsewhere, and the one with Mates of State at Space tomorrow night is enough to turn even the biggest frown upside down.

And speaking of State, the countdown is on for the re-opening of the State Theater. Not to mention the fact that Venue Music Bar is full-steam ahead on Forest Avenue, and my gal Paula Cole is coming back to the Landing at Pine Point in December. So we’re good, people, we really are. 

Listening to Mates of State is a cure-all for whatever may ail you. Kori Gardner (keyboards/vocals) and Jason Hammel (drums/vocals) have been turning the world on with their smiles and songs for more than a decade.

Pogo-stick over to www.matesofstate.com or www.myspace.com/matesofstate and enjoy the aural feast that is their latest release, “Crushes (The Covers Mixtape).” Hear what they’ve done with songs from Nick Cave, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Waits, Death Cab for Cutie and a mess of others. Then delve further into their catalog for originals like “My Only Offer,” “Like U Crazy” and “Ha Ha.” Mates of State is one of the first bands I ever wrote about when I started writing this column back in 2003, and the pair has been consistent suppliers of musical mirth.

This could easily be a very hot ticket, so you may want to get yours today.

Mates of State. Doors at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland. Ages 18 and older. $12 in advance; $15 day of show. Tickets at Bull Moose Music locations or www. brownpapertickets.com.

The unwavering caravan of bands from Brooklyn, N.Y., continues with a show from Japanther, the punk-rock duo of Ian Vanek and Matt Reilly. I listened to clips from their most recent release, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Ice Cream” (Menlo Park Recordings).

Here’s my dime’s worth: “She’s the One” is a blast; “L.A. URA Mystery” is extremely catchy; “Surfin’ Coffin” is fun; “Life is Strange” is jump-up-and-down inducing; “$100 Dollar” is dancing-like-we-used-to-at-Zootz inducing; “Not at War” is edgy; “Spread So Thin” rocks; “Get Me Home” is kind of funky; “What the (Expletive) is the Internet?” makes some good points; and “Alone in the Basement” is surprisingly sweet. I have no idea who the woman is singing on some of these tracks, but she’s got a killer voice.

Meanwhile, Screaming Females has a new record out on Tuesday called “Castle Talk” (Don Giovanni Records). Screaming Females is a rock trio from New Brunswick, N.J., which is apparently known for its underground basement music scene. Who knew? Probably a whole bunch of you, but cut a gal some slack.

Speaking of gals, Screaming Females has one in the person of Marissa Paternoster (guitar, vocals). Jarrett Dougherty plays drums, and King Mike is on bass. Wanna hear a fantastic song? Hit www.myspace.com/screamingfemales and blast “I Don’t Mind It.” It’s my new favorite song, and Space is the place to be on Monday night. Football, schmootball.

Japanther with Screaming Females. 9 p.m. Monday. Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland. Ages 18 and older. $7 tickets at Bull Moose Music locations or www.brownpapertickets.com

Aimsel Ponti is a Portland freelance writer. Contact her at:

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