My friend Daniel Bayer — Raving Knaves bass player, sound engineer and erstwhile journalist to the rest of the world — tells me the number of live music shows is down this year. My own experience doesn’t always confirm that assessment, but judging by the number of events on my list this week, there’s some truth to what he says. Gas prices are up, audience interest is as fickle as ever, but musicians whose lives depend on pursuing their art will not be deterred.
First up: a heads-up for newly signed American Recordings artists the Avett Brothers, who are scheduled for a Halloween show at War Memorial Auditorium in Greensboro. And getting right into the week at hand, the Dear Hunter, Lydia, You, Me and Everyone We Know, Eye Alaska and Left on Cates show up at Greene Street in Greensboro on Wednesday. Also on Thursday, one of the classic Greensboro house-rocking bands, Tornado, plays at Muse Restaurant in the Friendly Center in Greensboro on Thursday in a benefit for Children’s Home Society of North Carolina. Heading over to Winston-Salem, Hick’ry Hawkins and Hellbound Glory share billing at the Garage on Thursday. As for Hawkins, it’s hard to best this Charlotte troubadour and Heavy Rebel Weekender alum’s own publicity: “Imagine a long white Cadillac with Hank Williams Sr. driving, Steve Earle riding shotgun, David Lee Roth in the back seat and the body of Sid Vicious banging around in the trunk!” Hailing from Reno, Nev. and Aberdeen, Wash., Hellbound Glory plays a similarly twisted variant of the hillbilly idiom. The following night the Garage switches to an indie rock format with Mount Airy’s Esterhaazy, the Fire Tonight of Columbia, SC and Charlotte’s Stellas. On Friday, Athens, Ga. new-wave pioneers Pylon play a rare North Carolina show at the Werehouse. They share a bond with local producer Mitch Easter dating back to the early 1980s when Easter opened his Drive- In studios to the band for the recording of its second LP. Gravel Truck, consisting of Easter and friends, will also be on hand to play a set of covers of Easter’s equally beloved band, Let’s Active. Riders in the Country in Greensboro celebrates its 20th anniversary this weekend with concerts by the Whatever Band on Friday and Saturday and a concert by Remedy X on Sunday, Aug. 10. The Alan Neese/Scott Adair Project, the Dave Fox Trio and the Larry Draughn Group play Jazz Fest 2008 in Sunset Hills Park in Greensboro on Saturday. The concert benefits the Marcus C. Rizzo Center for Musician Enrichment. Visit www.rizzocenter.org/ jazzfest08 for more information. Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band and Hot Politics appear at Greene Street on Saturday. Rockumentaries don’t come much more perfected than Martin Scorsese’s 1978 chronicle of the Band’s grand finale, The Last Waltz, so the bar is naturally set high for Shine A Light, the Scorsese film released this year to capture the Rolling Stones live in 2006. You’ll have to see for yourself at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro on Saturday whether it measures up. Camel City chanteuse Martha Bassett graces Summer on Trade in Winston-Salem on Saturday, the Garage continues its run with Boone’s Possum Jenkins and Nashville’s Less Honkies, More Tonkies. Bruce Piephoff and his band will join Songs of Water for a concert on the front lawn of Greensboro College facing Market Street on Aug. 10. Hailing from the authentic side of the tracks in Nashville, John Hiatt lands at High Point Theatre on Aug. 12.