This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Tommy Womack, The Acorn, Red Collar/ Spider Bags, The Connells, Jeff Crawford/ Rebekah Todd, Jeff Hart/ Tom Meltzer Combo, Man Man/ Yeasayer
EH, WHATEVER: Less Than Jake
VS.: Chris Duarte vs. Larry Keel
SONG OF THE WEEK: Justin Roberts' "Picture Day"
05.01 TOMMY WOMACK @ BERKELEY CAFE
In his talking-blues-styled song "The Replacements," Nashville-based Tommy Womack tells of witnessing a 'Mats show that left him "white-knuckle straightjacket dumbass blind." If you've ever seen Womack fronting a full-on rock band, you might have had the same experience. He's a rock star for all of us who only get to play rock star behind closed doors. The thrills are different but darn-near equal when Womack's solo. Some songs are personal (even uncomfortably so at times) and some universal, but they all leave a mark. And they're presented in a sly folk-rock style similar to that of his buddy Todd Snider. $10/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
05.01 THE ACORN @ NIGHTLIGHT
Somewhere between the Animal Collective and Akron/Family, The Acorn rests in a hammock with a ukulele and a book of anecdotes. Like a more springy Califone, the Ottowa five-piece builds provocative beds of sound—underskirts of guitar noise, twisting polyrhythms, surprising harmonies, teasing choruses—around and beneath the serpentine, compositionally understated acoustic pop of frontman Rolf Klausener. With Doom Bunny. $7/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.01 RED COLLAR/ SPIDER BAGS @ TIR NA NOG
As welcome as WKNC's Local Beer, Local Band Nights in the downtown Raleigh Tir Na Nog have been for the last year (seriously, free rock and free beer?), some acts have a tendency to get lost in the crowd's chatter and the listlessness of those sitting tableside. Not these: If you're sitting at a table, Red Collar—clattering arena anthems with a punk streak shot through the dayjob haircut—may break it. If you're talking to your pal at the rock show, Spider Bags—unhinged rock with a country sad and nonsober side—may steal your beer. Glorious debauchery from two of the area's best gangs of miscreants. Free/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin PLEASE NOTE: Spider Bags have canceled and will be replaced by The Bronzed Chorus and The Dry Heathens. For more, see Scan.
05.01 THE CONNELLS @ THE POUR HOUSE
Have the Connells been given the key to Raleigh yet, or perhaps Connells Day has been declared? The band's longstanding Southern pop, as melodic as it is sturdy, cries out for official civic recognition. It seems somewhat fitting, then, that this is a "Josh Stein for N.C. Senate" show. Maybe he can pull some strings. $15/ 8:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell
05.02 JEFF CRAWFORD/ REBEKAH TODD @ OPEN EYE CAFE
Not your coffeeshop stereotypes, sunny and soulful pop from singer/ songwriters Jeff Crawford and Rebekah Todd make for a sweet spring pairing. Roman Candle's Crawford has become a Hearing Aid favorite for charming, Beatles-esque originals that feel comfortable on first listen. Meanwhile, the younger Todd captivates with her voice as she muses on relationships and religion. Free/ 8 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
05.03 JEFF HART/ TOM MELTZER COMBO @ THE CAVE
The duo Meltzer-Hart offers fun, jangly guitar pop with a little twang. Both seasoned musicians with storied histories here, Jeff Hart and Tom Meltzer play separate sets tonight. Expect a little more Americana from Hart, a little more light-heartedness from Meltzer, and a lot of humming to yourself after the show. 10 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
05.03 EARTH @ DOWNTOWN EVENT CENTER
The Bees Made Honey in the Lions Skull, the sixth album from Seattle band Earth, is one of the years best records and one of the best re-renderings of blues music one can fancy: Earth started as a drone metal band, letting glacial sheets of highly amplified guitar hum charge the air and braze the ear drums. Epic, innovative and proudly stubborn, Earth gave doom metal something from which to build and, to this day, aspire. After a nine year break, Earth returned in 2005, still moving slowly but substituting those magnificent monoliths for subdued, singular blues guitar lines, cutting through haze and floating sound up into arid revelry. Three years laterthanks to magnificent organ and piano additions and a rhythm section thats heavy, quiet and gracefularchitect Dylan Carlson has turned the pure sound into a purely brilliant band. Do yourself this favor. With the excellent U.S. Christmas. 10 p.m. Grayson Currin
05.04 MAN MAN/ YEASAYER @ CAT'S CRADLE
If you can imagine a supergroup comprised of Tom Waits, Don Van Vliet, Marc Ribot and Dr. John, you've still only just begun to imagine Man Man. The Philly-based rock combo goes in for spectacle, performing in white uniforms, bushy beards, handlebar mustaches and war paint. But the spectacle is only an enhancement to, not an apology for, the music: a steaming gumbo of gypsy strings, vaudevillian rock, New Orleans jazz, classic soul, smoky lounge balladry and several outliers. Technical facility and wanton abandon collide when Man Man shakes the stage with its kitchen-sink arsenal of horns, organs, pots and pans. Brooklyn-based space hippies Yeasayer opens, weaving numinous harmonies into infinity-sign-shaped blurs of synths and global polyrhythms. It's a well-balanced one-two punch: Both bands work in the exhortative mode, but after Yeasayer hypnotizes us, we can count on Man Man to slap us awake. $10-$12/ 9:30 p.m. —Brian Howe
05.01 LESS THAN JAKE @ LINCOLN THEATRE
The press release for Less Than Jake's forthcoming GNV FLA describes it as "a return to form." Funny, one supposes, as the third-wave ska/ punk band from Gainesville, Fla. has essentially been pulling from the same bag of tricks since 1995's Pezcore, which just received its third reissue. Last one out of Liberty City burn it to the ground, but not until you've remastered that punk record! With Raleigh's Skywire and generic but fun pop-punk from Michigan's The Swellers. $15-$18/ 7:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
SATURDAY, MAY 3
Since: First paying gig at 17 (Zilker Park Clubhouse)
Claim to fame: Blues-rocking
Chris Duarte is one of those youthful veterans, a label that you earn by starting in your teens. Another label the San Antonio-born Duarte carries is "Texas blues-rock guitarist." You've got him pegged, right? Despite the geography and the power trio configuration, he's no Stevie Ray clone. He tends to lean on the rock half of the blues-rock tag. That he cites John Coltrane as his main influence shakes things up a bit, too. Hooverville opens. At THE ARTSCENTER. $16/ 8:30 p.m.
Since: First paying gig at 18 (bluegrasser at Tokyo Disneyland)
Claim to fame: Flatpicking
Larry Keel is one of those youthful veterans, a label that you earn by starting in your teens. Another label that the Blue Ridge Mountains-born Keel carried is "flatpicking master." You've got him pegged, right? Despite the geography and the acoustic accompaniment from his band Natural Bridge, this is not your traditional bluegrass. Although rooted in trad sounds and mindful of classic balladry, Keel's music zigs where you wouldn't even expect a zag. Keel's form of genre-bending offers a little more room for astonishment, so he takes this one late. The Whistlestop and Tennessee Jed open. At VINTAGE 21. $12/ 9 p.m. —Rick Cornell
05.03 TRIPP @ LOCAL 506
In his high school rock band, Texas native Alex Wilkins covered a Superchunk song. He loved Ben Folds Five after seeing the Chapel Hill trio on PBS, and he remembers exactly where he was the first time he heard the Whiskeytown gem "16 Days." In fact, those sounds are one of the key reasons Wilkins decided to follow a Washington and Lee classmate down to Chapel Hill in the fall of 2004. The pair had recorded a handful of demos in the living room studio of former Pavement drummer Steve West in Virginia under the name Tripp, and they slowly started picking up gigs in Chapel Hill. But, just as Wilkins' bandmate was graduating from law school and preparing to move to New York, they met local guitar impresario and ace showman Hugh Swaso, who'd previously spent time in Jump, Little Children, *SONS and Barbarella.
"We went up to Hugh and said, 'Hey man, do you know anybody who could play guitar and sing?'" remembers Wilkins. "And he was like, 'I can.'"
Wilkins says Swaso added new life to those old songs, which have less to do with the aforementioned venerable Triangle lineages than one might expect: Led by Wilkins' affable, everyman tone and Swaso's six-string electricity, Tripp—a consistent quartet since last August—writes sharp, radio-ready themes, capable of swooping wide as breezily romantic pop ("Taste") or charging fast as open-road anthems ("Everything in One.") In both cases, expect a perfect springtime sentiment. Tripp releases its debut, Good Boy Charm, at Local 506. With Mumpsy and I Was Totally Destroying It. Free/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin