Besides being the voice behind many of The Band's biggest hits, you might know legendary drummer Levon Helm from his roles in Coal Miner's Daughter or The Right Stuff. Helm lays it down Thursday night at the Cradle with his blues/rock review, Levon Helm and the Barnburners. Featuring his daughter, Amy, on vocals, the group covers everything from Louis Jordan to Howlin' Wolf (no Band songs, though). Although Helm battled throat cancer last year, the incredibly influential former-Band timekeeper and Dylan sideman hasn't lost his chops. Soulful.
Soulful would be the last word to describe instrumental math-rock pioneers Don Cabellero, who play the Cradle Saturday, Nov. 11. Since their testicular, time signature-shifting '93 debut, For Respect, Don Cab continue to evolve. They've left one industrial city (Pittsburgh) for another (Chi-town), and are down to a trio these days, led by theorist/drummer Damon Che. Their latest, American Don, crosses the boundary into prog: The repetition, Fripp-like circular guitar patterns, ambient stretches and deft tempo changes initially sound like freeform jams until you realize these guys literally chart this stuff on a blackboard. More thematic than melodic, but impressive nonetheless.
Cat Power, the nom de performance of one Chan Marshall, plays the Carrboro ArtsCenter this Saturday. Marshall's most recent album, The Covers Record, has the doleful indie chanteuse ripping the innards out of classics by everyone from the Velvet Underground to the Rolling Stones. Light years beyond mere eccentricity, Marshall's performances are wild-card events where she may change the lyrics, tear at your heart with her lost-child vocals, or react weirdly to the audience. However odd it all seems, Marshall's schizophrenic songs of isolation and deliverance are a rare glimpse into one woman's dream-space. --Angie Carlson