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What is it about those flat, endless Midwestern skies? Moline, Ill., natives The Winter Blanket (pictured right) make melancolic pop that only a fellow mellow Midwesterner such as Low's Alan Sparhawk (from Duluth, Minn.) could love. In fact, Sparhawk does love The Winter Blanket. Enough so that he produced the quartet's first two full-length releases, 2000's Hopeless Lullaby and 2002's Actors and Actresses.

Most recently, The Winter Blanket has released a vinyl-only 7-inch tribute to the '60s singer-songwriter Fred Neil that features both a song about and two songs by the reclusive man who most famously penned the Harry Nillson, Midnight Cowboy-soundtrack classic, "Everybody's Talkin'." It may be spring, but The Winter Blanket will cover the Triangle on Monday, May 5, at the Cave, starting around 10 p.m. Local Portastatic-Work Clothes outfit Lud is also on the bill. --Michael J. Kramer

***

What made Bob Marley's music so good was the spliff. Well that was part of it. But really what the made the music so good was ... the music. Marley's powerful songwriting and performing was infinitely enriched by his backing musicians in the Wailers. Not just Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston, with whom Marley had first come on the scene. But also the musicians who helped forge the very sounds of ska, rock-steady, reggae and dub in the studios of Jamaica during the 1960s and '70s. One of those musicians, Aston "Familyman" Barrett, continues to carry on the Wailers' name, despite the usual deceased-rock-star cacophony of acrimonious lawsuits surrounding Rastaman Bob's estate. Barrett, along with former Wailers Al Anderson and Earl "Wya" Lindo, bring the Wailers to the Lincoln Theatre for a good old punky reggae party for all ages on Thursday, May 1. Tickets are $14 advance, $17 day of show. For more information, call 821-4111 or visit lincolntheatre.com.

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