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SHAPE-SHIFTER: The incredibly versatile Conor Oberst plays Fernwood on Friday.

Music Calendar

September 29 - October 6, 2010



New York trio White Hills subscribe to the theory of psychedelic rock that says "screw the tambourines and acoustic guitars, it's time to blow out some speakers!" The group layers the turbulent drum hurricane of percussionist Kid Millions with guitarist and vocalist Dave W's wall-of-sound riffs and the awesomely named Ego Sensation's deep and deadened bass thumps. Ambition is in no short supply, as the crew's tracks can stretch for 15 minutes and more. On the trio's latest self-titled album, the psychedelic trip goes cosmic with perhaps the most well executed example of space rock recorded all year. Crepe Place; $8; 9pm. (Curtis Cartier)


This show pulls out the Americana big guns: solo shows by Robert Earl Keen or Fred Eaglesmith are rapturously received by local fans, but the two of them in one night may prove more twang then a single stage can handle. Though their styles are distinct, they're both real-life folk and country mavericks who have put in serious time as road warriors. At turns wry, observant and literate, the each plays the type of music you'd hear at Cormac McCarthy's juke joint of choice. This isn't any stereotypical hillbilly stuff: Keen and Eaglesmith are both serious artists whose humor leavens pitch-black sensibilities earned from a lifetime of living on Nashville's fringes. See story, page 21. Rio Theatre; $30; 7:30pm. (Paul M. Davis)

FRIDAY | 10/1

Tater Famine

Don't let the mandolin fool you. Tater Famine is an energetic, Hank-meets–Bad Religion hybrid mixing punk rock substance with country sensibilities. The Santa Cruz trio of acoustic guitar, standup bass and mandolin found its sound in 2006, when the auditory restraints of the members' apartment complex forced them to take a punk-unplugged approach, replacing their electric instruments with acoustic ones and developing an old-meets-new punkabilly style. Since then, Tater Famine's toured the country, released a debut CD and played around the Bay Area and West Coast extensively. With Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy. Crepe Place; $7; 9pm. (Cat Johnson) (PMD)


Calling Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst "Dylanesque" is the traditional way music journalists pass off his masterful command of the English language and subtly profound delivery. Like many words suffixed with "esque," however, it misses the mark of the full scope in the man's craft. Through his work not only with Bright Eyes, but Desaparecidos, The Faint, Park Ave., Commander Venus, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and Monsters of Folk, he's become the musical scribe of a generation. In Big Sur on Thursday, Conor's planned a low key affair—just him, his guitar, a few guests and a couple hundred fans with nary a dry eye among them. Fernwood Resort, Big Sur; $25; 7pm. (CC)



On any given night in New Orleans, there are too many great shows for one person to attend. It's impossible to realize the sheer breadth of the city's musical tradition, but the Subdudes do a good job with their amalgamation of the many threads. Bringing together blues, gospel, funk, R&B and a touch of zydeco, The Subdudes are about as close to Bourbon Street as many West Coast residents will get. Credit bandleaders Tommy Malone and John Magnie, two long-time players in the Big Easy who have assembled a crack team of musicians to deliver the grit, verve and soul of the Bayou to listeners far and wide. Moe's Alley; $25 adv/$30 door; 8:30pm. (PMD)


It's understandably hard to stand out as a reggae or dub act on an island like Jamaica. So after eking out a living as a studio session band for a small record company, the Easy Star All-Stars took a back road to originality by doing no original songs at all. Instead, the quartet carved out its niche with dubbed-up versions of iconic rock records like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (called Dub Side of the Moon), Radiohead's OK Computer (Radiodread) and the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Dub Band). Catalyst; $14 adv/ $19 door; 9pm. (CC)

SUNDAY | 10/3


Originally begun as a youth outreach program, Los Cenzontles set out to bring traditional music and dance to a generation living away from its cultural heritage. Members found that new roots had set in, and that mixing traditional fare with the American sounds permeating life North of the border resonated with the mixed identities of Mexican-American youths. Electric guitars accompany accordions and play mariachi melodies set to lyrics about hardship. It's impossible to hear a song like No Hay Trabajo ("There's No Work") and not think of the bans that forbid illegal immigrants a livelihood. Don Quixote; $10; 1pm. (Kate Jacobson)

MONDAY | 10/4


Simple piano melodies that come after an education in music are rarely as basic as they seem. The spaces between Renee Rosnes' notes are planted as carefully as the twirls of her piano keys, and each song is tailored to give the individual voices in the quartet a perfectly balanced role. Introducing something like a cello or an element of world music doesn't hyphenate her individual genre into the mish-mash of styles characterizing much of the jazz scene. Rosnes is the anchor that keeps her quartet honest, the Canadian with a jazz pure enough to be almost pre-evolutionary. Kuumbwa; $22 adv/$25 door; 7pm. (KJ)

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