Sound Menu April 02 2008

CL’s picks for the week’s best shows


THE DIRTBOMBS Like the steel-coated V-8 monsters Detroit used to turn out, Motown’s Dirtbombs are much more particle than wave, forging a concussive momentum that collides garage, punk and soul in a fire-breathing boogie. Frontman Mick Collins’ capable of R&B croon on ragged, ornery covers of Al Green and Marvin Gaye, or a rabid howl for grit-soaked, wall-rattling rumble like “Stuck in Thee Garage.” Their irreverent racket is grimier and noisier than usual on their punky new album, We Have You Surrounded. $10-$12. 9 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. — Chris Parker

THE HILL COUNTRY REVUE With Luther Dickinson on the road for the foreseeable future with the Black Crowes, fellow North Mississippi Allstars’ bassist Chris Chew and drummer Cody Dickinson invite guitarist Garry Burnside and singer Chris Smithhart along for a month of Wednesday night performances. Not surprisingly the sound is similar to the NMAS, i.e., lots of funky blues-rock jamming, so any fan should relish the chance to catch two-thirds of the band in the intimate confines of Smith’s. With four more return gigs in as many weeks, the improv factor should be extreme. $10. 8 p.m. Smith’s Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. — Hal Horowitz

RJD2, DÄLEK, HAPPY CHICHESTER RJD2 comes to pop music from an intelligent hip-hop background (a la Def Jux). His cross-fade into non hip-hop is unorthodox and even a little uncomfortable, but the songs are full of hooks and intrigue. New Jersey masters of bombastic, postapocalyptic hip-hop Dälek churn out rumbling beats and bottom-end noise. Happy Chichester opens with a set of piano and acoustic guitar numbers from his debut, Lovers Come Back. $20. 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. — Chad Radford


DAVID DONDERO The former Sunbrain frontman has enjoyed a decade-long affair with the road since going solo, releasing a half-dozen studio albums characterized by clever, soul-bearing music. Like Sebadoh without the harsh veneer, Dondero traces the weakness and the ache of lost souls, and he’d probably count himself among them. While not a confessional-style songwriter, he nonetheless conveys a genuine, unsparing honesty in his sketches, whether extending the “you break it, you bought it” sentiment to the heart, or considering a “Hwy Death Shrine.” He’s backed on this tour by a full band. $6-$7. 10 p.m. Caledonia Lounge, Athens. 706-549-5577. — CP

INTERNATIONAL NOISE CONFERENCE This touring maelstrom of art-noise-terror proudly boasts the motto, “No Laptops! No Droning! No Mixers!” As such, one can expect an evening of sounds that hem and haw between shimmering, head-cleansing tones and gratuitously violent and unapologetic noise, all twittering in defiance of traditional songwriting. The lineup includes 15-minute performances from Wilson & Heath, Clang Quartet, Subliminator, Self Inflict, Autistic Mother, Angry Arabs and many more. $7. 9 p.m. Eyedrum. 404.522.0655 — CR

SONIC GENERATOR Compositions by Eric Chasalow, Nick Demos, Eric Moe, Nico Muhly, Henrik Strindberg, Karen Tanaka and Randall Woolf are featured in Sonic G’s final concert of the season, which explores the various ways composers are inspired by technology, or were influenced by other technology-wielding artists from Boulez to Björk and beyond. Free. 8 p.m. Georgia Tech Alumni House. 678-466-4200. — Mark Gresham

TOM PRINCIPATO It’s difficult to understand why this blues-rocking Telecaster master isn’t a major contemporary blues/roots star. Principato is sure talented enough and he’s been leaving mouths agape with his classy yet searing guitar pyrotechnics over the United States and Europe for the better part of four decades. A solid new album, appropriately titled Raising the Roof, might help spread the word, but he’s most at home when peeling the paint from Blind Willie’s walls with his slashing solos. This two-night stand allows him plenty of room to stretch out. Repeat show Fri., April 4. $12. 9 p.m. Blind Willie’s. 404-873-2583. — HH

SUGARLAND, ZAC BROWN BAND Decatur’s hot new country darlings kick off their first headline tour at the fabulous Fox. It will be a very special night for them and their fans, as they have worked hard to get where they are. They found the formula, and have ridden it to the top of the charts. Zac Brown opens with his generic brand of music for people who talk at concerts. Repeat show Fri., April 4. $35-$45. 7:30 p.m. on Thurs., 8 p.m. on Fri. Fox Theatre. 404-817-8700. — James Kelly


WILLIE NELSON TRIBUTE AND CABBAGETOWN TORNADO RELIEF BENEFIT Local country musicians gather to celebrate singer, songwriter and country music icon Willie Nelson’s 75th birthday. Various acts, including Slim Chance & the Convicts, the Blacktop Rockets, Jon Byrd, Caroline Engel, National Grain, the Downer Brothers and more play two sets of Nelson’s most popular songs. The show also doubles as a benefit to help aid Cabbagetown residents who were affected by tornado damage. $8. 9 p.m. Star Bar. 404-681-9018. — CR


GARY LOURIS, VETIVER Singer/songwriter Louris might not have started the Americana revival with the Jayhawks, the band he co-founded in the mid-’80s, but he was an integral part of that burgeoning movement. On tour to support his first solo album, Louris strips some of his old band’s commercial qualities out of his music for an introspective and shimmering set informed by the most moving aspects of country, gospel and West Coast pop. Ruminative, reflective emo-folkies Vetiver open and also support Louris as his backing band. $20. 8:30 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-223-1100. — HH

PACKWAY HANDLE BAND, LITTLE COUNTRY GIANTS (Second show only) At tonight’s CD-release party, expect Athens-based PHB to deliver a pretty easygoing brand of bluegrass, pleasant enough but nothing too innovative to speak of. The Giants have had some personnel changes recently, and the infusion of new blood has energized their gentle Appalachian balladry. $10-$50. 7, 9:30 p.m. Eddie’s Attic. 404-377-4976. — JK

ZOROASTER, MUSIC HATES YOU, WAITED, DOOMSAYER Atlanta drone-metal trio Zoroaster creates a sensory-jamming spectacle of lights, smoke and hypnotic dirge every time the group takes the stage. Each epic number builds through a dense fog of smoke and overdriven riffage to reach a plateau of noise that taps into the pleasure centers of the brain while causing irreversible damage to the ears. Like-minded local acts Music Hates You, Waited and Doomsayer also perform. $10. 8 p.m. Smith’s Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. — CR


AKADAMIE FÜR ALTE MUSIK BERLIN Begun a quarter century ago by a group of courageous young musicians within a foment of musical solidarity against the East German socialist regime, before the fall of the Iron Curtain, Akadamie für Alte Musik Berlin is a “period-instrument” Baroque orchestra whose historically informed performances are infused with an intense joy, verve, and laserlike precision. Their first U.S. tour, in May 2005, was a huge hit with the critics. $40. 3 p.m. Spivey Hall. 678-466-4200. — MG

JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE Sober after spending his teens and early 20s gripped by drug addiction, Earle’s begun to earn his surnames. Last week, Steve Earle’s progeny/ex-backing guitarist released his debut full-length, The Good Life, a spare, country-tinged album of fully-fleshed sketches and loping paeans to “Hard Livin’.” It’s keyed by Earle’s fine singing and understated arrangements, which doesn’t mean they can’t swing, as on the catchy rag-blues “Southern Georgia Sugar Babe.” $10. 7:30 p.m. Eddie’s Attic. 404-377-4976. — CP

LORI JEANNE BENEFIT The lovely wife of former Smoke & Opal Foxx Quartet cellist Brian Halloran recently had open-heart surgery, and some of the former denizens of the Cabbagetown underground music scene are coming out tonight to help raise a little money for her. Featuring a rare performance by Tenement Halls, the esoteric Hubcap City (from Belgium), James Hall in a solo set, and the Sean Moran Band, it will be interesting to say the least. And it’s a good cause. $10. 7 p.m. Smith’s Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. — JK


GSU PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE Once every two years, the GSU Percussion Ensemble, directed by Stuart Gerber, pays tribute to classics of pop culture with a “Rock and Roll Biennale” concert. This year, it’ll feature music by Frank Zappa, Imogen Heap, Radiohead, King Crimson, Laurie Anderson, Queens of the Stone Age and Jefferson Airplane in renditions transmogrified entirely for percussion. Free. 7:30 p.m. Rialto Center. 404-413-5901. — MG

TAB BENOIT This hard-touring, guitar-slinging, swamp blues/soulman has played every dive across the country, while also working the festival circuit, bringing a little bit of his Louisiana home-state mojo wherever he appears. While best-known for his effects-free blazing leads, Benoit is an affecting singer, burnished and gritty, who does justice to the occasional Otis Redding cover inserted into a set of smoldering bayou and Cajun blues rock that gets hotter every time he passes through town. The Squirrelheads also play. $15. 8 p.m. Smith’s Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. — HH

THE WEAKERTHANS Former Propagandhi frontman John Samson always had a gift for verse, but his Winnipeg quartet tones down the rhetoric and polishes the hooks to a gleam. Their fourth release, Reunion Tour, continues to cast cleverly across the landscape, whether considering his global employment prospects in a bustling rocker (“Relative Surplus Value”) or the ongoing tale of his cat Virtue, who remonstrates Samson his self-pitying/destructive ways. Samson’s reedy tenor is supported by midtempo, slightly folky, indie pop that suggests spindly, midperiod XTC at times. 40 Watt Club, Athens. 706-549-7871. — CP


THE LEVON HELM BAND Life after the Band hasn’t been easy for the group’s drummer, mandolinist, vocalist and sole American member. But after beating throat cancer and winning a Grammy for his most recent album, things are looking up. He’s never stopped playing though, and now brings the monthly Midnight Ramble sessions he holds at his Woodstock home on the road for a rare Atlanta appearance. Expect plenty of old-timey American folk and blues from the new release along with enough Band nuggets to give the classic rockers who will flock here something to sing along with. $45. 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-223-1100. — HH

Bands/performers/venues wishing to be included in Sound Menu’s noted-acts boxes may send recordings, press material and schedules two weeks in advance to Creative Loafing c/o Rodney Carmichael, 384 Northyards Blvd., Suite 600, Atlanta, GA 30313, or e-mail information to: To be included in the listings only, e-mail venue and band schedules by Thursday at noon (for the issue that comes out the following Wednesday) to