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The guide to the week's concerts 

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: The Physics of Meaning, Lost in the Trees, The Alcazar Hotel, Bellafea, The Curtains of Night, Amy Speace & the Tearjerks, Doug & Telisha Williams, Americans in France

EH, WHATEVER: Monte Montgomery

VS.: Duwayne Burnside vs. John Sebastian & David Grisman

VS.: Gary Louris and Mark Olson vs. Dr. Dog

INTRODUCING: Mark Holland's Rhythm Force

SONG OF THE WEEK: The Submarines' "You, Me & the Bourgeoisie"


click to enlarge The Physics of Meaning
  • The Physics of Meaning


Both having released noteworthy chamber-pop albums in 2008, Daniel Hart's The Physics of Meaning and Ari Picker's Lost In The Trees are like bedfellows. But even if the pairing seems too easy, their sounds are satisfyingly divergent: Hart's violin (which has been heard on recordings by the likes of St. Vincent, Annuals and The Polyphonic Spree) leads Physics' classically inclined bombast, recalling the extravagance of Yes or Led Zeppelin more than a stuffy strings ensemble. Picker relies instead on a more lonesome sound, cherrypicking elements of classical and folk music to augment his hushed, thoughtful songwriting. Albina Savoy opens at 9:30 p.m. —Bryan Reed


Claps, horns and shout-along choruses intersperse the fuzzed-out, beat-smacking rock of The Alcazar Hotel like cookie dough in ice cream. Amid engrossing, garage-door shaking braggadocio, sonic treats surprise with unexpected frames of reference. A trio with members from The Squirrel Nut Zippers and Jokes&Jokes&Jokes, Alcazar Hotel writes lyrics that maintain a careful course between sincere and irreverent, mentioning Stephen Hawking doing wheelies, singing Nazis, and a three-legged dog. The rock of Death to the Details and the guitar-drums indie duo Jokes&Jokes&Jokes open for this CD pre-release party. 9 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey


Bellafea's long-awaited Cavalcade saw the band evolved into a muscular, tightly wound unit able to dart and dodge upon off-kilter guitar lines through a rhythmic minefield, all without forsaking the songwriting. With Lost Houses, The Curtains of Night proved itself to be equally forceful, but the duo opted for a full assault, trudging through thick fuzz and laying siege with megaton riffs. Neither Bellafea's hailstorm nor Curtains' avalanche suffer from any shortage of volume or intensity, and, live, the effect is only multiplied. The opening act, Dischord-signees Andalusians, kick things off at 10 p.m., dragging shiny-happy '60s pop through the mud just enough to add some edge. —Bryan Reed

click to enlarge Amy Speace
  • Amy Speace


A couple of things jumped out from Amy Speace's 2006 roots-showcase release Song for Bright Street, made with her wonderfully named band the Tearjerks. First, of course, was Speace's voice, which was spunky, lovely, earthy or whatever else a song (12 of the 13 written or cowritten by her) needed it to be. Then there was the company she kept: Gary Louris showed for a duet, and the record was produced by Bongos/ Health & Happiness Show vet James Mastro, who, as lead Tearjerk, played about a dozen instruments on the outing. Speace is an Americana star in the making. Openers Doug and Telisha Williams, like another Virginia-based married Williams couple (Robin and Linda), make beautiful mountain music together. $10/ 7 p.m. —Rick Cornell


Chapel Hill trio Americans in France either delights with nervous energy—barely distorted guitars itching and scratching above simple, up-down rhythms and slightly askew co-ed harmonies—or envelopes with narcotic reveries. Almost all of the band's excellent debut LP, Pretzelvania, aims for the former, splitting the difference between Modern Lovers and vintage Violent Femmes with addled eyes and anxious hands. But one track, "Liking You," is a woozy, sad-eyed ballad, one of the most devastating odes to relationship regret in memory. If you're going to put only one curveball on your record, it helps for it to be perfect, right? They'll fit fine with Lawrence, Kan.'s Rooftop Vigilantes, fuzzy pop bandit runaways charged by sneer and swagger. Free/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


click to enlarge 02.04mushearingaid_eh_monte.gif


As a listener, one of the most frustrating things is loving a band and trying to convice the world to love it, too, but to little avail. But what's more frustrating is hearing a band that's grown popular and failing to understand how anyone's actually enjoying the same music you're hearing at all. Such is the case with Monte Montgomery, an Austin guitarist who's a self-proclaimed six-string badass into fret-tapping and masturbatory solos. Sure, it looks cool, but it sounds like an absolute horror above his soul-rock schlock. Imagine Babyface collaborating with Kenny Chesney's backing band collaborating with Dave Matthews comrade Tim Reynolds, the treble high and the voice that of a talent show loser. No, no, this is worse than that. $10-$12/ 8:15 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Parlor Mob's refried blues boogie chases the legacy of Led Zeppelin and The Black Crowes like skid marks, offering a malodorous combination of sighing wail (which bites Robert Plant harder than Scott Stapp supping on Eddie Vedder) and cowbell-rocking Southern-tinged post-grunge. It's hard rock for soft heads and underdeveloped palates, begging the question, if you don't have feet, why wear shoes? The moldy riffage flows luxuriously, showcasing prog-rock levels of self-satisfaction and relentlessness. Like a Tabasco enema, nothing good will come out of this. Actually, Bull City opens, and that's OK. $6-$8/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

Saturday, Feb. 7

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From: The Mississippi Hill Country
Since: The early '80s
Claim to fame: Finding the deep soul in blues

Mississippi roots are going to blossom into the blues most of the time. Such is the case with rhythmic guitarist Duwayne Burnside, and his run deeper than most. As the son of the late R.L. Burnside, he got his start early, backing his daddy on drums, bass and guitar before he hit 13, and he also got to hang (and eventually play in a band with) Junior Kimbrough. Flash ahead two decades to find Burnside alongside some guys more his age—namely, the Dickinson Brothers, as a North Mississippi Allstar. But he's got his own band now, the Mississippi Mafia, and his own sound, with plenty of soul caught in those Hill Country roots. 9:30 p.m. At the BLUE BAYOU.


click to enlarge 02.04mushearingaid_vs_sebgr.gif


From: Well, they first met at NYU
Since: The early '60s
Claim to fame: Finding the vast riches in folk

You never really know where Greenwich Village roots are going to take you. That's where John Sebastian and David Grisman first played together, as members of the Even Dozen Jug Band. From there, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Sebastian rode the Folk Revival wave, accompanying the likes of Bob Dylan and Mississippi John Hurt, before forming the Lovin' Spoonful, whose answer to the British Invasion was proto-Americana. Grisman chose a slightly more cosmic route, taking his anything-with-strings virtuosity to Earth Opera, Old & In the Way, and ultimately the David Grisman Quintet. It's the definition of eclecticism when these old friends reunite. $25-$40/ 8 p.m. At MEYMANDI CONCERT HALL. —Rick Cornell

Wednesday, Feb. 11

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From: Minneapolis/ Joshua Tree, Calif.
Since: 1985
Claim to fame: The Voice

Gather 'round, young roots scholars, and I shall tell you about the Jayhawks. What's that? No, oddly, they weren't from Kansas. The band's justifiably much-beloved Hollywood Town Hall carried echoes of the Esteemed Elders Gram Parsons and The Band, and it flew on the wings of the vocals of guitarists/ songwriters Gary Louris and Mark Olson. It soared highest when Louris and Olson sang together, forming what noted scribe David Cantwell called on the sacred Web site [makes the sign of the barbwire] "The Voice." Eventually, The Voice split apart, but it was reunited in 2009 on Ready for the Flood. And all was right again. $18/ 7:30 p.m. At THE ARTSCENTER.


click to enlarge 02.04mushearingaid_vs_dog.gif


From: Philadelphia
Since: 1999
Claim to fame: The Nicknames

Gather 'round, young pop scholars, and I shall tell you about Dr. Dog. What's that? No, oddly, there were no actual physicians in the group, but there was a lawyer. And, no, a canine didn't play keyboards. You're thinking of The Archies. The band's work carried echoes of those Most Esteemed Elders The Beatles and The Beach Boys, albeit with an occasional back-porch twist that recalled The Band. They got a lot of mileage out of the B's. In addition to a knack for pleasing, psychy pop, the members were also known for their habit of adopting nicknames. Historians remain unsure as to exactly why. $12-$14/ 9 p.m. At THE POUR HOUSE. —Rick Cornell



Mark Holland has been honed in on the blues since he and twin brother Michael started Chapel Hill rock band Jennyanykind in the early '90s. Mark also continued in a more primitive country blues sound with Jule Brown, creeping toward the cobweb-covered shacks of his heroes like Charley Patton and the storyteller Bob Dylan.

Holland turns the page again with Rhythm Force, a blues band that approaches boogie more than plaintive balladry. From his description, the band focuses on the beat and encourages dancing. They've already been known to invite other percussionists on stage (though the band adds two more percussionists than Jule Brown), and dancers can jump on in, too. This rich, chugging cadence promotes shaking your tail like a John Lee Hooker number, incessant and hypnotic. Though the pulsing beat reflects that Holland's tuning in to Afrobeat, another frequency he's long loved, the overall feel is still deeply rooted in the blues. The Houstons open at 10 p.m. —Chris Toenes


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