The Gourds perform with James McMurtry Wednesday night at the Bottleneck in Lawrence.
James McMurtry and the Gourds
The frequent area tour stops by the Steinbeck-esque songwriter James McMurtry are always welcome. One of America's most distinctive troubadours, he's documented the consequences of economic strife with harrowing authority. The most galvanizing element of Wednesday's concert for many connoisseurs, however, is the rare appearance of the Gourds. Long one of Austin's most celebrated bands, the Gourds are best known for a hilariously straightforward rendition of the Snoop Dogg hit "Gin and Juice." That amusing novelty aside, the Gourds are exceedingly accomplished practitioners of roots-rock.
Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $18.50 in advance.
Jay-Z's star shines so brightly that it tends to render his supporting cast invisible. Young Guru is one of the essential members of Hova's crew who has become accustomed to being overshadowed. Young Guru has mixed almost all of Jay-Z's albums as well as landmark releases by Beyonce, T.I. and Kanye West. He's also credited as an audio engineer on Coldplay's 2008 album Viva la Vida. Known as "The Sound of New York," the DJ, producer and engineer will showcase his talents Wednesday at the Czar Bar.
Tickets are $10 in advance. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Paul Thorn takes over Knuckleheads this weekend. The three-day blowout reflects the Southern singer-songwriter's increasing popularity in Kansas City. His appeal is obvious. In addition to his good looks and friendly demeanor, Thorn sounds like a combination of John Prine and John Lee Hooker. What the Hell Is Goin' On?, Thorn's most recent release, is an enticing collection of songs written by the likes of Ray Wylie Hubbard and Buddy Miller. Local blues phenomenon Samantha Fish opens Friday's show. The Nace Brothers, rock veterans from Warrensburg, warm up the audience on Saturday. Carl Butler, Pat Pearce and Hal Wakes open Sunday's gospel show in Knucklehead's intimate gospel lounge.
Tickets to Friday's 8 p.m. show are $20 in advance. Tickets to Saturday's 9 p.m. show are $20 in advance. Tickets to Sunday's 11 a.m. "Old Time Southern Gospel Brunch" are $75 in advance and include a choice of breakfast or lunch. A pass for all three shows is $100 in advance. A pass for both the Friday and Saturday shows is $35.
Spirit Is the Spirit, Wooden Sky and Tiny Horse
The local version of The Deli is an online publication dedicated to covering Kansas City's music scene. It highlights a broad array of contemporary rock-based artists. The Deli's Wednesday showcase, however, possesses a decidedly retro sensibility. Spirit is the Spirit play ramshackle jams that would have been immediately embraced by Grateful Dead fans forty years ago. The Lawrence band's psychedelic material like "Mother Mountain" is downright trippy. Tiny Horse is a country-rock project featuring Abigail Henderson and Chris Meck. The couple are beloved veterans of Kansas City's music scene. Wooden Sky is sandwiched between the two area acts. The Canadian band plays hushed folk-rock in the vein of Fleet Foxes. Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $8 in advance.
Eric Bachmann has always been ahead of his time. His raucous work with Archers of Loaf influenced a slew of more popular acts. The acoustic-oriented sound he adopted on his solo albums and under the name Crooked Fingers anticipated the current folk-based craze associated with the likes of Mumford & Sons. While Bachmann hasn't attained much in the way of commercial compensation, his albums possess a timeless quality that transcend the trends of the day. John Vanderslice, a California-based singer-songwriter and accomplished producer with a similar disparity between critical plaudits and mainstream success, opens the show. Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $12 in advance.
Neon Hitch and Wallpaper
Revelers are advised to check their brains at the door and plant their tongues firmly in their cheeks as they enter the Riot Room on Sunday. The dance-oriented double-bill promises outlandishly mindless fun. Fledgling British pop star Neon Hitch is best known for her lewd hit "F**k U Betta." Neon Hitch's writhing in the ditty's promotional video makes Madonna's "Like a Virgin" clip look like a scene from Dora the Explorer. Wallpaper.'s similarly savvy video and social media strategy has made the California-based duo an internet sensation. With its hashtag, misspelling and use of capitalization, Wallpaper's novelty song "#STUPIDFACEDD" is ingeniously tailored to the Twitterverse. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the show.
Infamous leaders of the crunkcore movement, Brokencyde's combination of crunk and screamo has been ruthlessly derided by an army of angry detractors. Some people just can't take a joke. By combining the cartoonish hip-hop of Lil Jon and the intense screaming of rock bands like the Devil Wears Prada, Albuquerque's Brokencyde has knowingly forged a new form of fun-loving party music. Two of the four opening acts- Colorado's Nathan Ryan and New York's Bunny and the Bear- share Brokencyde's puerile mashup sensibility. Locally-based metal bands My Brother, the Vulture and Shed the Dreamer round out the bill. Tickets to the 7 p.m. show are $12 in advance and $14 on the day of the show.
The Infamous Stringdusters
The enormous success enjoyed by the members of the now defunct band Nickel Creek has been a boon to hopeful bluegrass artists. It now seems possible to achieve a modicum of commercial viability playing banjos, fiddles and mandolins. The Infamous Stringdusters, a collective of dexterous Nashville cats, are giving it a go. The band's groove-based version of the Police's "Walking On the Moon" is indicative of the band's unconventional approach. Bluegrass traditionalists, Deadheads and the new breed of acoustic music fans that favor the Lumineers and the Civil Wars will find plenty to appreciate Tuesday at the Bottleneck. Show time is 9 p.m.
Hinder's presence on the calendar of the Riot Room evokes a classic line spoken by the manager of the fictional band Spinal Tap. Rather than becoming less popular, the manager in the mockumentary insists, the band's "appeal is becoming more selective." Hinder, a mainstream rock band that's sold millions of albums, will perform for an extremely selective audience at the intimate Westport venue on Tuesday. The band's faithful fans will undoubtedly be thrilled to hear Hinder's acoustic renderings of hits including "Lips of an Angel," "Get Stoned" and "All American Nightmare." Aranda, hard rockers from Hinder's hometown of Oklahoma City, open the show. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $25 in advance.
"There's a world out there, I know there is, where they'll play my songs on their silver harps and their violins," Joe Pug sings on his new album The Great Despiser. A celestial band of harpists and violinists won't accompany Pug at the Czar Bar on Tuesday. Yet a small audience of devotees who favor the sound of vintage Bob Dylan will shower their appreciation on the journeyman singer-songwriter. The compelling songs on the Chicago resident's new project focus on the life of an itinerant man who is coming to grips with the realization that his aspirations may never be fulfilled. Tickets are $5 in advance. Doors open at 7 p.m.
| Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star