This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Darrell Scott, The Helio Sequence, Hammer No More/ Caverns, Patty Hurst Shifter, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Over the Rhine/ Mary Gauthier, Americans in France, Skarp/ Magrudergrind
EH, WHATEVER: Darrell Scott, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk
VS.: Greg Ginn's Jambang vs. Dead Confederate
SONG OF THE WEEK: Fred Eaglesmith's "Time to Get a Gun"
05.29 DARRELL SCOTT @ AMERICAN TOBACCO CAMPUS
By the end of October, American Tobacco Campus' excellent Music on the Lawn Series will have offered jazz (John Brown), bluegrass (Steep Canyon Rangers), folk (Robin and Linda Williams) and blues (Beverly "Guitar" Watkins). Think of today, then, as something of a roughly hewn, perfectly honest distillation-in-advance of those forms: Though he's a guitar-playing troubadour with pointed social critiques to boot, Darrell Scott dresses his folk-song core with nuances gleaned from those preceding genres. He laments like a bluesman, forces himself into complicated arrangements like a jazzman, and sings with wistfulness and romanticism like a bluegrass man. Mostly, though, his comfortably sung songs connect through emotional candor and observational acumen, the mark of an itinerant writer who pays attention wherever he goes. Free/ 6-8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.29 THE HELIO SEQUENCE @ LOCAL 506
Between 2004's Love and Distance and 2008's Keep Your Eyes Ahead, Portland's The Helio Sequence—a two-man band of drums, guitars, vocals and hovering textures sourced from samplers and harmonicas—streamlined what was always a surprisingly mammoth bombast. Whereas The Helio Sequence had previously produced indie-kid anthems from a foundation fixated on space and prog's overwhelming tendencies, the band now works toward such largesse from a skittering indie base. Former Modest Mouse member Benjamin Weikel sounds relaxed behind his kit, and Brandon Summers' romanticism seems a little less aggressive. The band's mid-level creepers sound, well, middling lately, but such filler only makes the occasional electric epic or acoustic rumination that much bolder. With the buzzing Republic Tigers. $10/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.30 HAMMER NO MORE/ CAVERNS @ NIGHTLIGHT
Local trio Hammer No More the Fingers and D.C. instrumentalists Caverns share a producer in J. Robbins (Jawbox), who's helming both bands' forthcoming full-lengths. But that's not a namedrop: Both bands give the listener just a moment's notice before diving in headlong, Hammer with its staggering riffs lunging into ferocious rhythms, and Caverns with its classically inclined piano lead, which pulls prettiness out of unsuspecting noise squalls. 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed
05.31 PATTY HURST SHIFTER @ SADLACK'S
Patty Hurst Shifter long ago conquered Raleigh (photographic evidence and testimonials available upon request) with guitar rock that somehow manages to feel both sprawling and compact. Next, the world: Their song "Sadder Side" highlighted a "Music Inspired by the Faces" CD that accompanied a recent issue of Uncut magazine out of the UK. Let's hope they keep at it. 6 p.m. —Rick Cornell
05.31 WALTER "WOLFMAN" WASHINGTON @ BLUE BAYOU CLUB
This speaks volumes: A CD called Funky New Orleans, one disc out of the four-disc City of Dreams: A Collection of New Orleans Music set released last year by venerable label Rounder, gave guitar wizard/ vocalist/ band leader Walter "Wolfman" Washington two turns in the spotlight. His "You Can Stay But the Noise Must Go" kicked things off, with "Funkyard" showing up right around last call. In all, his contributions offered more than 13 minutes of prime New Orleans funk, with plenty of soul and R&B properly in the mix. 9:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell
06.01 OVER THE RHINE/ MARY GAUTHIER @ THE ARTSCENTER
Via finely etched songs and/or look-you-straight-in-the-eye deliveries, some artists make it clear they're sharing something personal. It's that elusive—mythical, some might say—moment when a singer or group truly connects with a listener. If it's a song about pain, you ache. If it's a song about joy, you fight the urge to stand on your seat and offer "Hallelujah." This double-bill pairs two acts capable of such connections: Over the Rhine bears the natural intimacy of a husband-and-wife duo, and Mary Gauthier presents the unflinching stance of someone who's been down a reckless road and lived to sing about it. $18/ 7 p.m. —Rick Cornell
06.01 AMERICANS IN FRANCE @ THE CAVE
High atop the list of newish local bands you need to know is Americans in France: A Chapel Hill co-ed trio of guitar, drums and bass, Americans in France sounds like a narcotic rock shuffle. "Liking You" recalls the Quaalude glow of Baltimore's Beach House, except it eventually finds a pulse before letting it collapse into itself. "Mkele Mbembe" twists and claws through a minimal Spaceman 3 drift, occasionally trigger-shifting into Bad Moon Rising Sonic Youth. Oh, and the Americans sample Charlie Wilson's War. With Robo Sapien. 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
06.02 SKARP/ MAGRUDERGRIND @ VOLUME 11
Last weekend's Maryland Deathfest directs three grindcore insurgents our way: D.C.'s Magrudergrind aims its savagery through a minimal trio blitz, backing curdling grunts and growls with one feedback-and-chords guitar and a drumset in a race against itself. While California's Phobia mostly follows decades-old grindcore scripts, Seattle's Skarp may be the band that leaves with tonight's spoils. By juxtaposing a grindcore center with black metal arch and post-rock patience, Skarp bends obligatory rules into unconventional springs. With Man Will Destroy Himself, Obstruction and Revocation. 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.30 COWBOY MOUTH @ LINCOLN THEATRE
Dash Rip Rock offshoot Cowboy Mouth is closing in on two decades of flirtation with mainstream success and underground approval. While their live show has engendered a cult following, singles like "Jenny Says," several soundtrack appearances, a Springsteen cover and a new song called "Kelly Ripa" have exposed the band far and wide. Still, Cowboy Mouth has never really broken big, and its latest, 2006's Voodoo Shoppe, sounds like an open invitation to let it go: A hackney tribute to Joe Strummer that sounds like The Offspring forgetting how to sound like The Offspring is only slightly less embarrassing than "The Avenue," a post-Katrina lament from the New Orleans rock band. Emotional sincerity is one thing, but the acoustic guitars and piano backing this verse—"I'm lost deep in the emotion/ That hit me just like an ocean/ That seemed so refreshing once"—like a praise-and-worship service are something else entirely. $13-$15/ 11 p.m. —Grayson Currin
06.03 IVAN NEVILLE'S DUMPSTAPHUNK @ CAT'S CRADLE
This historically ordained New Orleans quintet doesn't stir up too many complaints sonically, even if its thick, horn-based grooves, dirty guitars and full-bodied gospel-inflected choruses are illegal cargo toted from the Funk Mothership. But where George Clinton made his message by throwing a universal party, Neville's crew stirs the political pot and makes its gumbo a tad bitter. Lyrics about gun control, FEMA and bombs over Baghdad hit all the wrong pockets. $12-$15/ 9 p.m. —Kathy Justice
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4
GREG GINN'S JAMBANG
From: Long Beach, Calif.
Claim to fame: Black Flag guitarist who founded seminal mid-'80s label SST
His unorthodox sidewinding guitar style echoes New York free artists Elliott Sharp, John Zorn and Bill Frisell. While Ginn's playing isn't atonal, it's definitely off, the out-of-key notes creating a scabrous texture. That odd sophistication gave Black Flag much of its distinctive bite, separating it from many early American hardcore peers. By the time of grunge, his seminal label, SST, had lost its luster, bands and lawsuits, but Ginn's continued to perform and release, from 2006's dark, squalling metal Dick to the jazz swing of his latest, Goof Off Experts. Ironically, Jambang is his new jam band, employing that dissonant mindset in spacy instrumental settings, like kraut rockers Harmonia as covered by the American noodle circuit. Don't go expecting familiarity. With the Taylor Texas Corrugators at THE POUR HOUSE. $8-$10/ 10 p.m.
From: Augusta, Ga.
Claim to fame: First band signed to former Capitol Records head Gary Gersh's new label, The Artists Organization
After eight years as The Redbelly Band, the quintet tired of rootsy 20-minute jams and stoned audiences, abandoning its aged aesthetic for something edgier and not altogether rootsy. The sweltering squeal of guitar and undulating washes of distortion rising like haze off the summer asphalt recall the arid hum of the Black Angels, though the tempos push harder. Its old expansiveness is still evident in luxuriant breaks and outsized outros, but the atmospheric vein of the playing settles nicely over the churning rhythms and the anguished vocals of one Hardy Morris. The new stance is generating buzz the old one never did. Can't say the same for Ginn's Jambang. With All the Saints and Black Skies at LOCAL 506. $8/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
5.31 TRKFEST @ PIEDMONT BIOFUELS
Piedmont Biofuels, a biodiesel plant in Pittsboro, seems a dubious locale for an all-day music festival. But the industrial site will indeed host TRKfest, a dozen-band bill presented by Chapel Hill label Trekky Records. After all, Piedmont Biofuels says its facility has become a place marked by "lots of activity, enterprise, and like-minded individuals working in their own ways toward a different way of being." Could any description be better suited to Trekky, too?
According to Trekky co-founder Will Hackney, the festival is not only a fundraiser for the label itself but also a chance to bring several non-Trekky bands together for one event. Aside from the usual Trekky-affiliated suspects—The Never, Endless Mic, Embarrassing Fruits, Barghest, Butterflies, Wil Donegan & the Apologies—the bill includes Raleigh's Bowerbirds and Durham bands Megafaun, Hammer No More The Fingers, Sweet By & By and The Future Kings of Nowhere.
"We are hoping with this event to raise money so we can release all of the great records we have recorded, so it will be supporting our artist collective and our endeavor," says Hackney. "Our first allegiance is to Trekky, but a close second is to the Triangle music scene and the Triangle in general."
To that end, TRKfest will also offer goods from local artists and vendors, heightening the festival ambience. Whether it grows into an annual event remains to be seen. One thing is for certain though: Just as Piedmont Biofuels strives for sustainable energy, Trekky aims to continue fueling the Triangle music scene. Get your fill at 2 p.m. Piedmont Biofuels is located at 547 Industrial Park Dr. in Pittsboro. A $10 donation is suggested. For more, see www.biofuels.coop. —Bryan Reed