This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Cheap Trick, "Lost in Music and Adrift on Disco" with Sleazy McQueen, NOMO, Two Cow Garage, Austin Lucas, Mike Hale, Akron/Family
VS.: The Duke & The King vs. New Riders of the Purple Sage
VS.: Chicago Blues Tribute vs. The Soul Picnic
INTRODUCING: Jeanne Jolly, Minor Stars
08.07 CHEAP TRICK @ WALNUT CREEK
Few bands sustain their creativity beyond the first decade of existence, either turning into a nostalgia act for those considering hair plugs or hawking their celebrity to score some ass and free publicity for a stillborn solo career (Hi, Bret Michaels!). That Cheap Trick avoided such a fate would be testament enough, but three decades in they've staged an artistic comeback, first with 2006's surprising Rockford and now with their fine Steve Albini-produced The Latest. Absent the major-label push that made them stars in the '70s and '80s, their revitalization's gone largely unremarked, which is almost criminal, if not as sad as their tour mates' perpetually arrested development. Those tour mates are Def Leppard and Poison. Scalp a ticket. See Cheap Trick. Bail. $29.50-$125/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker
08.08 "LOST IN MUSIC AND ADRIFT ON DISCO" WITH SLEAZY MCQUEEN @ THE PINHOOK
Carolina native DJ Sleazy captains this wayward ship, and he knows well how to navigate a party. He'll soon move to New York with hopes of making mixes and becoming a club fixture there with his penchant for groovy disco and house. Word has it, he's now at the other end of the coast, in Florida. But for this steamy Saturday night, he'll be back in the Triangle, with DJs Kiko and J. Sonel, guiding this boogie boat toward another sunrise. 10 p.m. —Chris Toenes
08.08 NOMO @ LOCAL 506
If you've heard of NOMO, you've likely heard that they're an Afro-beat band from the unlikely land of Ann Arbor, Mich. And that's mostly true, as the band—led by multi-instrumentalist and brilliant melody man Elliot Bergman—grinds deep into generous polyrhythms, big bass lines and multiple drummers bouncing against hummable jazz heads. But NOMO isn't a retro act, and they stretch beyond the typical Afro revivalism, keen to suggest Gerswhin and incorporate gamelan in music that ultimately asks you to dance while listening. Crate digger DJ Jason Perlmutter spins around the band's set. $8-$10/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.10 TWO COW GARAGE, AUSTIN LUCAS, MIKE HALE @ LOCAL 506
Columbus cow-punks Two Cow Garage follow Drive-By Truckers down the road of ragged, rumbling twang, bolstered by front man Micah Schnabel's grainy, whiskey-and-cigarettes vocals. It'll bring Lucero's Ben Nichols to mind. They're supporting their fine fourth effort, Speaking in Cursive, which showcases crunchy, piano-abetted ne'er-do-well odes that would make The Replacements proud. Labelmate and opener Austin Lucas grew up with his dad's bluegrass, but Lucas cut his teeth in grindcore before following his father down the country lane three years ago. Last year Lucas collaborated with Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music) on the bluegrass Bristle Ridge. On his latest, Somebody Loves You, he explores a more traditional vein of ache. $8/ 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
08.12 AKRON/FAMILY @ CAT'S CRADLE
The bastardized brethren of indie rock and circle-dancing jam band realms, New England's Akron/Family pushes through a litany of influences—from basics like The Beatles through Phish to outsider persuasions like Afrobeat, free jazz and harsh noise—into a somewhat singular space right now. The songs are consistently great (see "Rivers" and "Lake Song"). The ideas are ambitious (see their cohesive first EP, a split with Michael Gira's Angels of Light). And the playing is mostly acrobatic and ingenuous, twisting through themes and variations on a quest for some higher, unknown peak (see "Gravelly Mountains of the Moon"). Prolific troubadour James Jackson Toth, aka Wooden Wand, opens. If he plays an hour, at least 25 minutes of his set will mesmerize. Chapel Hill's Mount Moriah—a gritty syndicate of country-graced drifting rock—opens. $10-$12/ 9:30 p.m.—Grayson Currin
THURSDAY, AUGUST 6
THE DUKE & THE KING
From: Bearsville, N.Y.
Claim to fame: preparing for fame
It's a literary reference: The Duke and the King are the well-traveled hucksters from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But in the music world, The Duke & the King are songwriter Simon Felice (on leave from sibling outfit The Felice Brothers) and Robert "Chicken" Burke. Their single of the moment is a gentle roots-pop prayer titled "If You Ever Get Famous." A video pairs it with Michael Jackson footage, adding extra emotional heft to a tune that already has plenty built in. If that song's hushed brilliance is any indication, the pair is going to have much more success than its run-out-of-town namesakes. Ryan Gustafson opens. $8-$10/ 9:30 p.m. At LOCAL 506.
NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE
From: San Francisco
Claim to fame: proto-country rock
It's a literary reference: Riders of the Purple Sage is the title of Zane Grey's best-known novel. But in the music world, the moniker belongs to the band that spun out of the wild, wild West Coast collaboration between singer-songwriter John "Marmaduke" Dawson and a pedal-steel-sporting Jerry Garcia. When Garcia's main gig proved too time-consuming, steel master Buddy Cage stepped in, and the Riders supported country arrangements with hefty rock rhythms. In turn, they provided the soundtrack for many a party in the woods (at least in my neck thereof). Dawson passed away just a week ago, but the band—led by guitarist David Nelson, who signed on back in 1970—rides on. $12-$15/ 9 p.m. At THE POUR HOUSE. —Rick Cornell
SATURDAY, AUGUST 8
CHICAGO BLUES TRIBUTE
From: Chicago and points south
Since: a long time
Claim to fame: playing and rolling steady
You'll get to hear the blues, with an abundance of raw soul in the delivery. There's a lot of history between the notes, too. Guitarist Hubert Sumlin started out in a group with James Cotton, only to be brought to Chicago by Howlin' Wolf to play in his band. Sumlin's work on Howlin' Wolf's Chess Records output represents some of the most inventive and expressive playing of that era. And fellow guitar ace Bob Margolin first made his mark playing in the band of another blues giant on Chess, Muddy Waters. You'll also get to see some history, or at least Hollywood's take on it. Following the performance by longtime friends Sumlin and Margolin, Cadillac Records, the story of Chess and the larger-than-lifers who made it roll, flashes on the big screen. $15, $7.50 for kids 7-12, and 6 and under free/ 7 p.m. At the N.C. MUSEUM OF ART.
THE SOUL PICNIC
From: the Midwest, Philly, New York and Raleigh
Since: the '80s, '90s, and '00s
Claim to fame: so much soul, so many styles
You'll get to hear soul music with an abundance of styles in delivery. There'll be a lot of variety on display, too, from solo acts to duos and groups, from adult-contemporary crooning to beatboxing. The quintet (now quartet) Mint Condition came out of the Twin Cities in the late '80s, showcasing a fondness for Prince's sweeter soul moments. Fellow Midwesterner Carl Thomas, a Grammy-nominated R&B singer, left Chicago for New York in the '90s and found his way to Sean Combs' Bad Boy label. Philly-based Kindred the Family Soul is the husband-and-wife team of Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon, a neo-soul duo discovered by Jill Scott. Human Beatbox Doug E. Fresh is the real veteran of the crew, as his "The Show" from 1985 remains a hip-hop landmark. And the go-go-influenced Jus Once Band is the Triangle's contribution to the picnic. $35-$60/ 3 p.m. At the KOKA BOOTH AMPHITHEATRE. —Rick Cornell
08.09 JEANNE JOLLY @ BERKELEY CAFE
Jeanne Jolly's singing cleanses like a warm summer rain. Strong and sure, it covers everything with a slight Alison Krauss-style melancholy and a hope for what's to come.
Based out of Los Angeles for the past few years, Jolly recently returned to Raleigh, where she grew up. "I wouldn't have predicted that I'd wind up back here this year, but I did, and have totally embraced it," she says. Jolly's also returned to her musical roots after some time singing classical and jazz. "I used to fear that I would lose my natural voice from studying too much and would wake up one day only being able to sing operatic versions of Beatles songs. Now, I just focus on singing to the style of the song and using whatever sound communicates the feeling of the lyric."
And what is that style she sings now? Country? Americana? "I just want to sing good songs that I can relate to, with the ultimate goal of speaking to an audience," Jolly says. "There's always an ebb and flow to every set, and it's neat when everyone rides it out together." Shuffling drums and rambling piano back up twangy guitar, vocal harmonies and the occasional fiddle or dobro. She stretches out her words, creating seductively languid lyrics.
Jolly sings tonight backed by Americana rockers Stonehoney, a band she met and wrote with in LA. Stonehoney has a set to itself, as does Greg Humphreys of Hobex, with his quiet, soulful introspection. $12/ 7 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
08.12 MINOR STARS @ THE RESERVOIR
"Minor Stars is pretty much a name change from Death of the Sun, even though it's all new people," says Minor Stars frontman Eric Wallen. But, at least according to him, maybe it's a good thing the old band's name got axed. "I always pictured the name Death of the Sun as kind of an epic, brightly burning image," he says. "I think a lot of people thought it sounded a lot more like a death metal band."
A lot of people were wrong: Death of the Sun, now Minor Stars, sounds like just the heavy psych-rock band to plant its flag on a peak between Black Mountain and Sleep's Holy Mountain. Deep, muddy riffs chug and charge and unwind into scorching licks that flicker like snake tongues. Bassist Bob Dearborn plows deep into the riff as drummer Matt McCallus drives with a steady, swinging beat. Wallen navigates the space between, his guitar wandering between the trio's harmonized voices.
And as the band aims to become a more regular presence on area stages, the beginnings of a record left in the dissolution of Death of the Sun—the forthcoming, Scott Solter-mixed Death of the Sun in the Silver Sea—will finally see the light. 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed