Choices, choices, choices.
Between the local club shows and the Spokane American Music Festival, there’s so much music being made in the Inland Northwest this week it’s almost overwhelming.
In a good way.
Below are just a few listening options at area bars and clubs. They’ve got your rock, they’ve got your blues, they’ve got your jazz and funk.
For a rundown of the Spokane American Music Festival, check the schedule in the What’s On listings in this section.
Fresh from Wenatchee
His lyrics are poetry with a rock attitude.
His bluegrass breeds plucky mandolin warble with industrial-strength guitar wails.
And at times it sounds as though Bob Dylan and Axl Rose took turns stepping on his vocal chords.
This is Michael Dickes and his band as heard on their new album “Dig.”
It leaves me thinking, how weird. But more important, how cool.
Although this band gets labeled “folk,” these guys are no sleepy, coffee-clutching folkies.
Hailing from Wenatchee, The Michael Dickes Band shapes rock, folk and bluegrass into a kinetically mutated, infectiously potent John Prineish sound.
Dickes himself calls their sound “blow-me-down folk-a-delic roots rock.”
Sure, why not?
In “Peace and Quiet,” a guitar-and-mandolin-driven hook bounces like a cantankerous playground ball as Dickes pleads, All I want is a little peace and quiet/There is nothing sweeter than to listen to the sound of silence.
Indeed, the mandolin riffs offered up by Pat Oscarson add a wicked spunkiness to the entire album.
Sure, lyrics like, I’ll hold you like a woman and I’ll make love like a man on “Lovers at War” could use some work.
But such flaws are forgivable, especially when Dickes unleashes the fiercer side of his already remarkable voice in songs like “When You Lose Everything” and “Just Like Job.”
Dickes and Oscarson will be joined by Mike Williams on drums, Todd Kenaston on guitar and Eric Frank on bass when they play at the Fort Spokane Brewery tonight and Saturday. Tunes start at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $4.
With a name swiped from a horror flick, you might think Punkinhead was a heavy metal band.
Although these four guys do play it heavy, it’s only a heavy groove we’re talking about.
And it’s a groove wrapped in high-energy funk and soul spiced with retro keyboarding and ripe guitars.
It is this mix that gets folks jumpin’ and shakin’ to the punkin beat.
Punkinhead sprouted from Fayetteville, Ark., in 1991. The band has since played twice at the national South by Southwest music industry festival and opened for James Brown.
The four guys share vocal duty, with Chuck Platt on drums, Eric Mills on keyboard, Mark Obana on guitar and Jason Cerchie on bass. Punkinhead will play the Ugly Rumors Lounge at the Mars Hotel Thursday. Show starts at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $5 at the door.
A.J. Croce returns
When A.J. Croce played his first gig here in the Inland Northwest in April, it seemed such a fine gem that I was sure we’d never be so lucky to come upon it twice.
I’m pleased to report I was wrong.
After three days of spectacular sold-out performances at Tubs Cafe, the piano man from San Diego has decided to come back north for yet another show at the Coeur d’Alene blues joint.
Although Croce is only 25, he performs with a wit and wisdom that some artists with twice his years still haven’t achieved.
His piano work sizzles. His voice is molten-ashy with the echo of Ray Charles.
While I’m in supply/Well he’s in demand/One man feels miserable/The other feels grand/Three cheers for the loser/but let’s give him a hand, he sings on the title track from his album “That’s Me in the Bar.”
A.J. is son of the late folk legend Jim Croce, known for songs such as “Time in a Bottle” and “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.”
Although the younger Croce incorporates some folk and rock into his music, he is more of a rhythm, blues and jazz man - one who knows how to get the folks dancing.
When Croce and his band played their first gig at Tubs, the place could hold only 40 patrons. The shows quickly sold out, so Croce added an extra performance.
This time he’ll have plenty of room thanks to Tubs’ new outdoor beer garden and stage with a capacity of 400.
Croce fires up the piano tonight and Saturday at Tubs, 313 Coeur d’Alene Lake Dr. Tickets are $15.
Music starts at 5:30 tonight with Carl Rey and The Blues Gators opening. The Laffin’ Bones Blues Band opens Saturday’s at 4 p.m.
No ordinary Junk
The undefinable, irrepressible San Francisco quartet known as Junk also makes a return to the Inland Northwest.
They’ll be at Outback Jack’s Tuesday night, ready to deliver a groove-heavy treat laden with broiling sax.
In an effort to define the undefinable (like all good reporters must) I’ll just throw out these words to help the non-Junk aficionado get an idea what they’re in for.
Jazz, funk, pop, instrumental, cocktail, rock.
Mash them all together now and start to dance. There we go. That’s Junk for you.
You’ll like them. You know why? Not only because they’re good, but because what they do is unlike most everything else out there.
Junk - comprised of Dave Schumacher on guitar, David Robbins on baritone sax, Frank Swart on bass and Malcolm Peoples on drums - swings into Outback’s Tuesday at 9 p.m. Cover is $5 in advance and $6 at the door.
Espresso and guitar
For something on the mellow side try the guitar stylings of Michael Engberg at Espresso Delizioso Saturday night.
Hailing from Denver, Engberg creates Americana-style stories and landscapes with guitar and vocal work that combines elements of folk, country, rock and blues Show starts at 9 p.m. Cover is $1.
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