This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Harvey Milk, Pontiak, Jim Lauderdale, Waumiss, N.C. Sacred Harp Convention, Des Ark, Yardwork, The Rosewood Thieves
VS.: Turbo Fruits vs. Tapes 'n Tapes
INTRODUCING: John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff
SONG OF THE WEEK: Jason Ringenberg's "Broken Whiskey Glass" and twin brother Farmer Jason's "Punk Rock Skunk"
- Harvey Milk
02.27 HARVEY MILK, PONTIAK @ LOCAL 506
As its broken metal blues hits harder and more relentlessly than that of its heavy Southern compatriots, one is tempted to call Athens, Ga.'s brilliant/ legendary/ lost/ found/ still-brilliant Harvey Milk a wrecking ball. But that would undersell the band on multiple fronts, from its ability to pop ("Motown") and party ("Rock & Roll Party Tonite") through its blaring amps to its willingness to plead ("The Anvil Will Fall") and pity ("Goodbye Blues") through Creston Spiers' weathered moan. Rather, Harvey Milk is a razor-sharp blender of pop culture and musical ideas, fracturing forms you assumed sacred and returning them with an insane intensity that should be felt to be believed. Whereas the Milk-men arrive at its destructive zone via hardcore, Sabbath and Motörhead, Thrill Jockey's excellent new Virginia act, Pontiak, cuts to a similar space from rolling, jam-based byways. Black Skies opens. $10/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
02.27 JIM LAUDERDALE @ THE ARTSCENTER
Jim Lauderdale is a throwback of sorts, a guy you can accurately label an entertainer. To that point, he's done some acting in musicals and hosted the Americana Music Awards. But he also knows his way around—and inside and out of—a country song. To that more important point, he's written with Melba Montgomery and the late, legendary Harlan Howard. He's worked with Ralph Stanley and Rodney Crowell. He's had his songs covered by George Strait and the Dixie Chicks. Factor in an inviting voice and a knack for looking sharp in a Nudie suit, and you have a genuine multiple threat out of Nashville by way of Troutman, N.C. $19-$21/ 8:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell
02.28 WAUMISS @ NIGHTLIGHT
The willfully scattershot sonics of Waumiss made the duo's self-titled LP a playful and engaging platter. Bits of dub and electronica pulse through psychedelic gauze and indie rock propulsion. Half-formed song structures keep things accessible, while allowing Clarque and Caroline Blomquist, Waumiss's core, to vary their textures—and the songs' direction—at a whim. In doing so, the pair creates an enticing, evolving sonic landscape that manages to be both fun and interesting. With Evil Wiener frontman Billy Sugarfix at 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed
02.28 N.C. SACRED HARP CONVENTION @ PAGE-WALKER ART AND HISTORY CENTER
Both singers and non-singers may try the eerily beautiful a cappella style of shape-note singing. Heavenly three- to four-part harmonies reverberate from the hollow square in which singers face each other. The singing begins at 9:30 a.m., breaks for a potluck at noon and continues until 3:30 p.m. for free. For more info, www.ncshapenote.org. —Elizabeth Lilly
- Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
- Des Ark
03.01 DES ARK, YARDWORK @ NIGHTLIGHT
Now boasting a sturdy three-piece lineup, Des Ark is at its most muscular yet. It's a hellride of unpredictability that purrs and sputters and roars in new and exciting directions, driven, as ever, by Aimee Argote and her twin selves: the heartbreaking songwriter and the caterwauling frontwoman—either of which could send most bands whimpering. Good thing, then, that the more-than-competent Yardwork—Charlotte's next-big-thing for a hot minute now—will take on support duties. The band's room-filling clatter recalls Akron/Family and an Afrobeat arkestra as fronted by ex-hardcore kids. Register opens at 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed
03.03 THE ROSEWOOD THIEVES @ LOCAL 506
"I got a frame on a mantle with no photo inside/ I got a horse in the stable that I don't know how to ride," sings Erick Jordan, frontman of New York five-piece The Rosewood Thieves, during "Junkyard Julie." The longest song on the band's generously contagious debut LP, Rise & Shine, "Junkyard Julie" motions to Blonde on Blonde Dylan, a persistent organ clearing the brambles for Jordan's infatuated croon. The Rosewood Thieves sounds as if it melted its parents' vinyl collection—The Beatles, The Kinks, The Stones, a little Brazilian psych—in one cauldron and drank it down for warmth on a winter's day. With tunes less erratic and more endearing than those of Dr. Dog, the black brew sounds like it did 'em good. $8/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
Monday, March 2
Claim to fame: Their other band was hyped to death in 2006
As Nashville's most precocious jailbait, Be Your Own Pet won the world over with hyperactive party anthems and Wayne Kramer guitar licks. As Turbo Fruits, guitarist Jonas Stein and drummer John Eatherly—along with non-Pets bassist Max Peebles—just want to get high. The trio's 2007 self-titled album on Ecstatic Peace! was a trouble-bound take on bluesy garage punk, dependant on hooks and hookahs alike, as if The White Stripes honed their chops over at Ridgemont High. Turbo Fruits isn't breaking any ground, but it doesn't need to: This is stoned garage pop with a good live show to boot, so don't overthink it. At LOCAL 506 with John Barrett's Bass Drum of Death. $8/ 9:30 p.m.
TAPES 'N TAPES
Claim to fame: Hyped to death in 2006
As Minneapolis' most blogged-about band since, well, the advent of blogs, Tapes 'n Tapes won the world over with its foppish college radio filler and mish-mash indie-isms. The band's 2005 full-length, The Loon, was a venerable who's who of easy-to-pinpoint influences. You know, a little Shins here, a lot of Modest Mouse there, and maybe a few dashes of Pixies for good measure? Sure. And the next album, Walk It Off ... that song that sounded just like Echo and the Bunnymen was pretty good. Just like Turbo Fruits (a group of guys just barely out of their teens in a garage rock band, mind you), Tapes 'n Tapes isn't breaking any ground. Unlike Turbo Fruits, it should try. At CAT'S CRADLE with Wild Light. $10-$12/ 9 p.m. —Rich Ivey
02.28 JOHN HOWIE JR. AND THE ROSEWOOD BLUFF @ BERKELEY CAFE
As his longstanding country band the Two Dollar Pistols was coming apart, John Howie Jr. wasn't sure what to make of it all. He was sure, however, that he wanted to keep making music. And when it came time to launch that next musical phase, he was determined it would not be "the Two Dollar Pistols, just with different people."
"Honky-tonk is a musical language" says Howie. "It's not restrictive; there are many places you can go with it." Post-Pistols, Howie bonded with New Town Drunks pedal steel player Nathan Golub (the Independent's production supervisor) over their appreciation for Michael Nesmith's steel guy Red Rhodes. The two became the foundation for the five-piece John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff, meant to be as fluent in old-fashioned country rock a la the Flying Burrito Brothers and Gene Clark at his most roots-leaning as it was pure honky-tonk. Makes sense, then, that the name "Rosewood Bluff" comes from Twenty Thousand Roads, a book about Gram Parsons.
Howie can't say enough about the "rock-solid guys" backing him, both in terms of temperament and talent. Drummer Matt Brown, bassist/ harmony vocalist Jesse Huebner and lead guitarist/ harmony vocalist Scott Gilmore join Golub. "I'm the emotional wildcard in the band," Howie offers with a laugh. With Blue Dogs. $12-$15/ 9 p.m. —Rick Cornell