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The guide to the week's concerts


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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Jonathan Richman, Antibalas, Joe Swank, WCOM Benefit, Lach

EH, WHATEVER: Walter Meego, Buckethead

VS.: Delta Spirit vs. Heartless Bastards

INTRODUCING: Slingshot Cash

SONG OF THE WEEK: The Wedding Present's "Palisades"




Jonathan Richman's a remarkable pop artisan, releasing some two dozen full-length albums over the last four decades. His oft-acoustic swagger is cool and entertaining, dramatic, but always lighter than The Velvet Underground. His catalog is fat. His influence is wide. And his fans are rabid. But the 57-year-old American icon seems forever doomed to be the guy who wrote "Roadrunner" with proto-punk pioneers The Modern Lovers or the guy who sang one too many goofy songs in There's Something About Mary. So stop perpetuating the nonsense: Come on down and revel in "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar" with Richman and drummer Tommy Larkins. $12/ 9 p.m. —Rich Ivey



"Beaten Metal," the first track from Antibalas' 2007 album Security, heralded new thought from American Afrobeat descendents with its polytonal polyrhythms, its declarative horn lines and its adventurous sense of time and dynamics. What started as an "Afrobeat Orchestra" has given way to a big band that honors and occasionally shows its roots (big trans-Atlantic fusion tunes with political lyrics) while shaping them into exciting new structures. Antibalas helped open doors for similar progressing-from-the-past pioneers like NOMO, and, for that, the debt is eternal. Antibalas' live show, by all reports, continues to be a blast. $14-$16/ 9:15 p.m. —Grayson Currin


This past June, Joe Swank and crew spent a weekend at Rick Miller's Kudzu Ranch Studio with John Howie Jr. claiming the producer's seat. When that record arrives, expect echoes of favorites Swank played on his excellent WCOM radio show­—from Steve Earle and Otis Gibbs to Drive-By Truckers and Lucero—and the rebellious spirit of some of the artists on the now-Chicago-based Swank's new employer, Bloodshot Records. Most of all, though, it'll reflect Swank's big, genuine personality. $3/ 10 p.m. —Rick Cornell


The lineup for this benefit is mostly aligned with the roots-rock/ Americana sensibilities of WCOM 103.5 FM's "The High Lonesome Radio Hour" and "Taproot Radio." At tonight's center is Shannon O'Connor, whose folk-rock hinges on a disarming delivery. From there, things get duo-dominated, with the Water Callers' restless acoustic country; the country-rock of John Howie Jr. and Nathan Golub; and local bluesmen Harmonica Bob & Near Blind James. 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell


NYC anti-folk pioneer Lach recently relinquished his 15-year-old post as host of the weekly Antihoot open mic night at the Sidewalk Café to "dance with the unknown," as he puts it. Expect his delineative tunes to have an extra political tinge— The Calm Before included "Former President Bush (Three Words That'll Cheer You Up!)" as a bonus track—as this gig falls nights before the final presidential debate. $5/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith



Though I endorse headliner Ra Ra Riot's clangorous, cum-strings indie rock melodrama and the unbridled energy it sports onstage, it's frankly beyond my civility to let Chicago's Walter Meego roll through town and not indict his major-label pilfering of some of this decade's more adventurous pop music: Pillaging the electro-glam of recent Of Montreal, the bombastic post-Yoshimi refrains of The Flaming Lips and the frazzled circuits of Daft Punk, Meego makes milquetoast jams with unimaginative sounds, flimsy hooks and plain ol' crafty titles like "Girls" and "Forever." This guy is the Pitchfork generation's Candlebox. With L.A.'s jangly Morning Benders. $8-$10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Here's the thing: If Buckethead didn't wear a BUCKET on his HEAD or if he supported his finessed but finagled riffage with a band and not a drum machine, a lot less people would care. Sure, Buckethead would either be the best guitar player in some mid-sized city or he would have made the leap to steady session work decades ago, but he wouldn't be headlining jam-band festivals, collaborating with Guns N' Roses and playing big clubs. The music—especially the stiff metal riffs and thin drums of his latest efforts—isn'tspecial, and people's allegiance to it is proof that the tunes almost always enjoy the sloppy seconds of the spectacle. For solo guitar, go buy a Mick Barr or John Fahey record. Or, hell, stay at home tonight, and please yourself. No need pay $16-$20 to watch this dude do it at 8 p.m. That 1 Guy opens. —Grayson Currin




From: San Diego
Since: 2005
Claim to fame: Formed from the ashes of emo act Noise Ratchet

Both of tonight's combatants are propelled by the deep bloozy sway of their respective caboose. This coastal quintet channels that sound through a rootsy Southern soul owing an obvious debt to The Band but brightened by a dash of Status Quo's loose-limbed British boogie. Frontman Matt Vasquez's supple, plaintive croon has a homey amble that sidles easily from rustic acoustic-folk stroll to boisterous, organ-driven hootenanny. While that "spirit" gives their debut, Ode to Sunshine, an emphatic charm, the familiarity of that stretch of Americana sets a high bar if they're ultimately to separate themselves from many similarly minded rivals. That is, while the music rolls right with energy, it often sounds backdated. With Pattern Is Movement at LOCAL 506. $8-$10/ 9:30 p.m.




From: Cincinnati
Since: 2003
Claim to fame: Black Keys drummer Pat Carney passed the Bastards' demo to Fat Possum to get 'em signed

The Bastards' gritty strut drips motor oil as the trio's piston-pumping rhythm section pulls back the covers of their mud bed for singer/ guitarist Erika Wennerstrom. Her grainy, sinewy vocals howl heartland, while the jagged stabs of guitar echo the writhing bite of Buckeye alt.rockers Scrawl. Her smoldering delivery swelters in the arrangements' tight quarters, dripping sweat that steams off the propulsive bottom-end with a definitive sizzle. More polished than The Black Keys' sludgy tarpaper shack, their ebony-hued hoedowns beat with a grimy pulse, but retain enough viscosity to slide down like Guinness. Those Cali boys can't handle this. With Dead Confederate at CAT'S CRADLE. $10-$12/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker




Drawn to the Triangle by the climate and strong music scene, former Austin resident Jon Ackley emigrated here 10 months ago from Madison, Wis., unwilling to endure another winter there. He resurrected Slingshot Cash, one of two bands he'd formerly captained, feeling country-rock was more appropriate to this area than "new wave molested by grunge."

The band's initial tracks, recorded at Gizmo Studios and in his home's front room, mine a ragged, loping alt-country twang reminiscent of early Jayhawks material: "Fixer," for example, haunts with an aching creak. Ackley thinks his songs work well in the Triangle's environs.

"The South lends itself to historical songs," Ackley says. "There's an atmosphere that's different in the South than the North and is why this kind of music works down here."

Playing its second show since solidifying its new lineup in July, Slingshot's currently employing a drummer-of-the-week, Spinal Tap style. "We'd like to promote from within but encourage any drummer interested in our sound to see us after the show," Ackley says. The music starts at 7 p.m. —Chris Parker

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