YES, PLEASE: Green Level Entertainers, Moonface, The Spacemen, The Evil Tenors, Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart, Django Haskins, Fresh Music Festival, Beat Connection, White Arrows, Skylar Gudasz & The Ugly Girls, Jeff Crawford Band, The Tender Fruit, 4th of July Party
INTRODUCING: Old Quarter
VS: Phatlynx vs. Kickin Grass Band
06.28 GREEN LEVEL ENTERTAINERS @ BLUE NOTE
A local supergroup of sorts, the Green Level Entertainers have been playing acoustic music together for close to 25 years; the quartet of progressive-minded pickers includes New Deal String Band guitarist and lead singer Leroy Savage, Red Clay Ramblers co-founder Jim Watson, Mandolin Central proprietor Tony Williamson and his banjoist brother Gary Williamson. Though the seasoned vets are all based in the area, their collective résumé includes work with icons from Earl Scruggs, Tony Rice and Alison Krauss to staples like The Bluegrass Experience and Robin & Linda Williams in a variety of newgrass, folk and country settings. Free/7 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
06.28 MOONFACE @ LOCAL 506
With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery is not only one of the best indie rock albums of the year, but it's also a proclamation that Spencer Krug isn't to be forgotten as a songwriter, bandleader and arranger. For the last decade, Krug's work has been inescapable and pervasive, whether through his big band Wolf Parade, its biggest branch in Sunset Rubdown or a number of side-projects and collaborations. These 10 songs find Krug with reborn focus and freshness, the rock band at his back coiling his words above New Order beats, U2 anthems and Fugazi tempests. A sharp pen now at the end of a very broad sword, Krug and Moonface aren't to be overlooked. With La Big Vic. $10/8:30 p.m.—Grayson Currin
06.29 THE SPACEMEN, THE EVIL TENORS @ CASBAH
Swaying from angular slashes to wavy rings, The Spacemen capture sounds from the cosmos. Often absent the pressure of vocals, the Raleigh prog-leaners land softly on new experimental terrains. Had Ian Curtis been revived on the dark side of whatever planet you prefer, he might have been like Nathan White, singer of the garage psychedelic outfit The Evil Tenors. They are too romantic to be punks, but they bound with an energy that's certainly reminiscent of the word. Perhaps The Spacemen best encapsulate the double bill with their own credo: "We have finally lost our fucking minds." $5/9 p.m. —James Hatfield
06.29 STACEY EARLE & MARK STUART @ THE ARTSCENTER
If her profile remains lower than that of her brother (Steve) and her nephew (Justin Townes), Stacey Earle has, in tandem with husband Mark Stuart, carved out an admirable career on the acoustic circuit over the past decade-plus. The duo's new record, Dedication, is their fifth together, alongside a couple of solo efforts. They complement each other gracefully, with empathetic harmonies and guitar playing that mostly eschews flashy solos for simple support of the songs. And if Earle ends up sounding more like Nanci Griffith than her relatives, that's welcome, too. $15–$17/7 p.m. —Peter Blackstock
06.30 DJANGO HASKINS @ SAXAPAHAW RIVERMILL
As summer jobs go, one can do worse than serenading a hillside of sun-kissed faces from the back of a hay wagon. Lucky for Django Haskins, he's been doing just that every year since the Summer Music Series' inception out in Saxapahaw. For patrons, the afternoon is an opportunity to buy farmers market produce and enjoy music and a picnic. For Haskins, it's a chance to rework songs from his moody pop-noir project, The Old Ceremony, or to dust off material from his years of touring solo. It's also possibly the only venue in the world where the performer gets paid in stuffed swan—that is, a plastic swan stuffed with dollars. Donation/5 p.m. —Ashley Melzer
06.30 FRESH MUSIC FESTIVAL @ PNC ARENA
Fans of '90s R&B—ranging from Guy's new-jack swing to Jodeci's nasty-boy begging—made quite a fuss after perhaps their most famous falsetto, Brian McKnight, posted a YouTube video of himself, singing the lyrics to his song "Let Me Show You How Your Pussy Works." Good thing he's not on tonight's bill, then, because that's not the tender McKnight-in-shining-armor we remember. But there's always the love-whiner king himself, Keith Sweat. As the host of his nationally syndicated radio show, "The Sweat Hotel," he continues to be the consummate, gentlemanly seducer, despite a few flaccid attempts at making another hit album.Leave that up to SWV, whose recent I Missed Us comeback boasts the cute throwback singles "Co-Sign" and "Love Unconditionally." They're building on a sound just as eternal as that of host Doug E. Fresh and his beat-boxing supremacy. Also, K-Ci and JoJo. $39.50–$75 —Eric Tullis
06.30 BEAT CONNECTION, WHITE ARROWS @ KINGS
You know exactly what you're getting here, thanks to savvy bands who do all the heavy lifting for their excitable, proselytizing fans and subgenre-sensitive music critics always on the look to label the next buzzing sound. Seattle's Beat Connection make unabashed electro-pop with just the right amount of haze smeared across it; they dubbed their debut EP Surf Noir, which expertly describes their beachy, dance-ready grooves. Los Angeles' White Arrows call themselves "the blackest 'white band,'" a lofty, dubious tag that they don't entirely earn, even if they wonderfully aspire. Also, playing are Brothertiger and Overmind. $8–$10/9 p.m. —Brandon Soderberg
06.30 SKYLAR GUDASZ & THE UGLY GIRLS, JEFF CRAWFORD BAND, THE TENDER FRUIT @ LOCAL 506
It's been a memorable spring for local singer-songwriter Skylar Gudasz. She's traveled overseas with the Big Star Third band, acted in an acclaimed Little Green Pig theater production, and recorded new numbers with her band the Ugly Girls in Jeff Crawford's studio. The first Ugly Girls gig in a while will also be one of their last, as guitarist William Taylor is moving to New York later this summer. Catch them while you can, but expect to hear more in the future from Gudasz, one of the Triangle's most promising young talents. Crawford and his band play the middle slot, with The Tender Fruit opening. $7/9:30 p.m. —Peter Blackstock
07.04 4TH OF JULY PARTY @ RALEIGH TIMES
Downtown Raleigh traffic closures for the City Plaza fireworks on Wednesday include the Raleigh Times block on Hargett Street, but don't fret: The whole block's just going to become party central instead. On one end, you've got your sampler platter of local bands, with Once & Future Kings, the Debonzo Brothers, No Eyes, Spider Bags and The Big Picture. On the other end, Gouge Wrestling performs half-hour shows between the bands' sets. The Times will sell burgers, dogs and beer on the street. When it's all over, fireworks will explode. Good deal. Free/1–10:30 p.m. —Peter Blackstock
06.28 OLD QUARTER @ TIR NA NOG
John Massengill had never written a song in his life. But when he got divorced, he wrote a whole bunch of them. Call it therapy.
One person's pain is another's entertainment: In that spirit, drummer Raymond Finn (Lonnie Walker) and guitarist Jeremy Walton (Nests) talked Massengill into starting a band with Sean Koenig, bassist in appropriately named upstarts the Charming Youngsters. They debuted at Slim's in October, but around the New Year, Walton dropped out. Jack the Radio multi-instrumentalists Danny Johnson and George Hage joined, adding mandolin, lap steel, dobro and more guitar, supplying shape to the skeletons.
"I feel like it's really branched out," says Massengill, noting that his skilled collaborators give the songs something more than their basic beginnings. "They start out as country songs and they play whatever they're feeling and they turn it into more of a rock thing. It expands them a lot. Many times they won't sound anything like I imagined."
They've been woodshedding when they can. Finding time can be difficult, Massengill explains, because everyone but Massengill plays in other bands. They hope to get the songs tight enough to record live on the floor with producer Nick Petersen for a four-song EP available by summer's end. —Chris Parker
Old Quarter shares the bill with Goner and Phononova Thursday, June 28, at Tir na nOg. The 10 p.m. show is free.
FRIDAY, JUNE 29
FROM: Chapel Hill
CLAIM TO FAME: Link Wray lovers
Formed from the fiery wake of a 12-guitarist take on Link Wray's "Rumble" at the 2010 Instro-Summit, Phatlynx are a greasy slice of reverb-laden rock 'n' roll led by ex-Southern Culture on the Skids multi-instrumentalist Chris Bess. Wray's signature surf-abilly is the base, but Phatlynx adds some chicken-fried backwoods flavor, evident in their ode to "Gravy." While Wray and Bess' other act, Killer Filler, are pure instrumentalists, Bess will occasionally bust some vocals. This quartet of scene vets feels wild and unkempt, wavy strands of melody fluttering behind the crackle of guitar. It's a raw, primal sound that doesn't require much thought, activating your id. At BYNUM GENERAL STORE. Free/7 p.m.
KICKIN GRASS BAND
CLAIM TO FAME: Classic bluegrass with additional flavors
Kickin Grass are special. Though their music hails from Appalachia, it drifts as much as it races, gentle melodic glow glimmering like twilight on a metal bumper. They're wonderfully talented players equal to those on the jamgrass circuit. They don't mind breaking out their "Pot Liquor" (essentially a two-and-a-half-minute jam), but they are dedicated more to songcraft. The arrangements are warm and energetic, with strains of bluegrass, Celtic, gospel and country. Those elements are just the icing. The cake itself is the vocals, particularly the harmonizing of the quintet's females, guitarist Lynda Dawson and fiddler Pattie Hopkins. Phatlynx are a delicious drunken feast, but Kickin Grass Band are a four-course meal. At PAGE-WALKER ARTS & HISTORY CENTER GARDEN. Free/7 p.m. —Chris Parker