EVERCLEAR, OUR LADY PEACE, LETTERS TO CLEO
Liberty Lunch, Saturday 22
Everclear main man Art Alexakis goes through great pains on 95's Sparkle and Fade and on this year's So Much for the Afterglow to show he's put his pissed-off punk past behind him. Now a contented family man and budding entrepreneur, his band still packs the taut, wiry punch of adolescent angst, constructing anthems for those still creating their own pissed-off punk pasts. Our Lady Peace and Letters to Cleo, trying hard to overcome life as modern-rock trivia questions, open.
KIRK WHALUM, BOB JAMES
Austin Music Hall, Friday 21
Kirk Whalum, who studied jazz at Texas Southern University, started as one of Houston's leading saxophonists before becoming one of the more respected pop/jazz hornsmen, assembling his latest Colors from an eclectic pastiche of styles and guest stars (even Alison Krauss). Bob James, a Grammy-winner who gave Whalum an early break, joins his former protege (along with Jeff Golub and Phillippe Saisse) for a tux & tailed evening benefiting Austin's Urban League.
Broken Spoke, Friday 21
Even if God didn't make honky-tonk angels, He still blessed Austin with an abundance of them in November. First came Loretta Lynn's triumphant Austin City Limits performance, now it's Kitty Wells' turn. The life-long Nashville icon and Opry staple was one of Lynn's first inspirations; the years and years she's spent on the road with her musical family have inspired countless others.
EVOLUTION OF THE BLUEZ
Victory Grill, Saturday 22
They are grounded in pain, but the blues are about much more than hurting. They're about healing, and as long as people play them, the hurtin' won't hurt so bad. That's why the Blue Jazz Workshop, along with T.D. Bell, Martin Banks, the Carl Settles Trio, and some Austin area students will be tracing the history of this vital art form, from field hollers to the "holler if ya hear me" of hip-hop. Runs 6-9pm. Student tix are $3 with the price doubling for adults.
ST. CECILIA'S DAY
Jovita's, Saturday 22
Cecilia, patron saint of music, has been especially good to Texas. Jovita's shows her much love Saturday with an all-day show celebrating all sorts of indigenous sounds. Conjunto masters Los Pinkys (joined by the Texana Dames) headline, preceded by the Gulf Coast Playboys' (with Ponty Bone and Walter Higgs) bayou breeze, Blues Boy Hubbard & the Jets' soul/R&B stew, the Tailgators' chompin' swamp rock, Ralph White's old-timey Suspenders outfit, and The Dance Hall Boys' old-school Czech polkas. Give it up.
THE THOMPSON BROTHERS
Continental Club, Sunday 23
The Thompson Brothers have an interesting pedigree for a country band (even one from Massachusetts): They opened for Badfinger when they were Hanson-aged, and later backed Bobby "Boris" Pickett as his Crypt Kickers. Here, the only "mash" in sight will be Kentucky sour, as their new Blame It On the Dog (RCA) lets its whiskey-fied roots show -- especially when Steve Earle joins them for Willie Nelson's "Pick Up the Tempo." The Damnations and Reckless Kelly kick things off.
ANNIVERSARY JAZZ BRUNCH
Manuel's, Sunday 23
Even if it's just a couple extra aspirin, Sunday mornings always call for some kind of reward. This Sunday's got even more than usual, as Manuel's celebrates eight years of some of the region's best food with a free brunch featuring some of Austin's best jazz musicians: Tony Campise, Suzi Stern, Paul Glasse, Susanna Sharpe, Floyd Domino, John Mills, Russ Scanlon, and Spencer Starnes. You get the idea. Food at 11, music at noon.
ROGERS & HAMMERHEAD
Cactus Cafe, Tuesday 25
Rogers & Hammerhead are two of the biggest reasons I miss having cable. Three in the morning just isn't the same without the off chance of stumbling across these two, their huge North Woods stone fireplace, and the acoustic guitars they pick between the good-natured (and highly entertaining) back-and-forth banter. No fireplace Tuesday, but everything else will be the same -- plus you'll probably be home in plenty of time to build your own.
Hole in the Wall, Wednesday 26
Roger Manning isn't shy about sharing his pain; last month he released a book called Fuck You Have a Nice Day. Since his first album for SST in 1989 (his latest, Roger Manning, came out this year on Shanachie), the NYC iconoclast has become something of an acoustic terrorist, blending blunt, arresting lyricism with a growling, lower-than-lo-fi performance aesthetic. Austin's Funner and California's Tex Twill try to follow.
Friday: Prima Donnas, Trail of Dead, Frig a Go-Go, Emo's; Eric Taylor, Cactus Cafe
Saturday: Bigfoot Chester, Doenuts, Hole in the Wall
Sunday: East Babylon Symphony, Mojo's
Monday: American Standards, Bates Motel
Tuesday: BR5-49, Stubb's
Wednesday: Soul Circus, Caucus Club
Thursday: Dale Watson, Continental Club;
The Sexton Brothers, Stubb's