Update: Please note that I have revised this posting, including changing the title and the first sentence, since originally posting it. My intent was only to spread the word about some touring bands I’m excited about seeing this Spring. In doing so, I made a poor choice of words and appear to have upset some local music performers. Please accept my apologies. As someone who pays to see local music about three times a week, I didn’t intend to denigrate local music by highlighting touring acts. -Chris Jay, post author
There are so many incredible live concerts coming up this Spring that it’s impossible to list them all. Here are five of my absolute must-sees, ranging from sludge metal to old-timey variety act radio hour. Hopefully I’ll see you there!
Celebrated graphic novelist and singer-songwriter Jeffrey Lewis writes extremely weird lyrics and has a voice that would probably be described as “whiny” by most people. But, like his 2011 song “Cult Boyfriend” says “you either love me or you hate me, no one’s on the fence.” And I love the guy. He’s a former songwriting partner of Kimya Dawson, whose music many folks encountered in the hit movie Juno. He’s disarmingly self-deprecating, incredibly witty, and good at poking fun at modern life. If you’re into nerdy things like cult movies, obscure sci-fi novelists, etc., I highly recommend that you listen to his 2011 single “Cult Boyfriend.” NPR has a nice profile of Lewis as an “anti-folk comic-book antihero,” which you can read here.
These pioneers of New Orleans-style “sludge” metal (think slow, incredibly heavy, churning guitar riffs punctuated by passages of hardcore punk) have been on the scene since 1988, cranking out album after album in their signature style. I wore their tapes out in high school. One element of Crowbar’s music, which can be lost amid the heavy metal imagery, is that the lyrics of vocalist Kirk Windstein are mostly about recovery. He’s extremely candid about surviving addictions to drugs and alcohol, and if you stop headbanging long enough to do so, you might hear something really inspiring at this show.
Alt-country singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield has risen fast, going from playing open mic nights at a pizza joint in Ohio to sharing a record label, Nonesuch Records, with Wilco. But her music, which is a dark and atmospheric blend of country and indie rock, would be worth the night out even if she wasn’t the rising star that she is. Check out her performance of “Our Hearts Are Wrong” on David Letterman from 2011, or this most recent performance of “Trouble” live in Austin.
North Carolina folk-rock trio The Avett Brothers aren’t the kind of touring band we get a lot of in Shreveport-Bossier. I’m thrilled at the chance to see them live in Shreveport at all (they’re playing Shreveport on this tour and not playing Dallas?), and the fact that they’re performing at the incredibly beautiful Strand Theatre is icing on the cake. They’re touring behind a new album, “I and Love and You,” which is a really fantastic record. Listen to the heartfelt title track.
Like the Avett Brothers at the Strand Theatre, the location of this performance could not be more well-suited to the performers. “Prairie Home” is an old-time radio style variety show, featuring guest musicians, musical numbers and comedy sketches performed live. It’s not so very unlike the Louisiana Hayride, a KWKH radio program that was broadcast from the stage of the Municipal Auditorium for decades and launched Elvis Presley to international stardom. This performance is being brought to Shreveport-Bossier by Red River Radio. Word on the street is that tickets are dwindling very quickly, so act fast if you’re interested in attending.