by Ryan Snyder

Upcoming shows you should check out

Yonder Mountain String Band visits Ziggy’s

Plainly put, Yonder Mountain String Band is on fire these days. For every time it has looked like their jam-scene popularity is starting to wane, i.e. every time another hot string band gains traction, they come back harder, tour harder and do things fans never thought they’d do. Last week’s sold-out, two-night stand at the Orange Peel saw them open it with a scorching cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” and invite the Del McCoury Band’s Jason Carter to sit in on fiddle the entire show. Yonder Mountain’s winter tour will come to Ziggy’s on Wednesday, and their opener, Lake Street Dive, is something different as well, offering a purely pop take on string music to complement their own jammed-up vision. Tickets for the show are $25 at the door, and the show starts at 8 p.m.

Corey Smith remains in a class by himself

In a lot of ways, Corey Smith never really left the teaching profession; he just has bigger classrooms nowadays. The former high school teacher turned-rock and roller continues to dole out life lessons in front of teens and young adults, but now the guy who still exudes the “cool teacher” vibe answers to his students instead of scabbish administrators. He constantly shows unexpected versatility while showcasing his own sound, though he’s still able to keep a safe distance from the sellout zone at all times. If sometimes it really does feels like Smith is preying on the same stereotypes that country music songwriters use to push the likes of Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw to the top of the charts — which it sometimes does when he sings “21” or “If I Could Do It Again” — Smith offered a verbal disclaimer in his visit to Winston-Salem a few years ago: “They hear my songs and they think I’m celebrating recklessness, or I’m celebrating poor decisions. I’m not. All I’m doing is describing things as how they occurred to me or how they appear to me.” The lessons continue on Wednesday at the Cat’s Cradle, where Smith will be joined by a singer who followed a similar indie path in Connor Christian. Tickets are $20 and the show starts at 9 p.m.

Mood: Indigo

Like all things in this universe, you have to break down a band to its molecules before you really understand its makeup. Isolate the predominant influences of the songwriting duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, and the ionic bonds that support the Indigo Girls’ signature folk-rock sound become clear. While Saliers’ personal musical aesthetic is derived from a passion for folk instrumentation and theology, Ray is a punk rocker at heart. Her brief solo catalog is decidedly more aggressive with a funky edge rarely found in the Indigo Girls’ discography outside of the tracks she was most responsible for. See: Ray’s solo band the Butchies for confirmation. On Thursday at the Casbah in Durham, she’ll be circling back around to her singer/songwriter bread and butter by taking part in breathtaking songwriters-in-the-round lineup. Joining her are Heather McEntire of Mount Moriah (who will no doubt be offering songs from her band’s incredible forthcoming LP Miracle Temple), Phil Cook of Megafaun and M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $15.