by Ryan Snyder

Upcoming shows you should check out

Sons of Bill return to Greensboro

There are those bands that can go from a Craigslist ad to playing the Grammys on little more than the strength of a single song and their potential, then there are others who announce themselves with a solid record, tour relentlessly, exhibit positive growth with every release and yet never seem to get over being a perennially underrated regional asset. Charlottesville, Va. quintet Sons of Bill fall into that latter category. The group — three sons of a literature professor and two friends — established themselves as mighty instrumentalists with a flair for vivid lyricism over their first two albums, but Sirens, their third, pushed their sound outside the confines of country rock and Americana. The core sound remains and the band revisits it often, but they’re also untethered to those conventions. They’re a band with club-sized cachet and arena-sized vitality, and they’ll have a full energy meter when they visit the Blind Tiger on the second date of their spring tour this Saturday night. Tickets are $10 in advance and $13 at the door, and who knows, this could be the one where they finally do get over.

Keller plays Dead (again)

Since his debut album Freek from way back in 1994, Keller Williams has concocted more strains of groovy goodness than a Humboldt County dispensary. The cornerstones of his catalog were long the quirky pedal loop-based records that show off his astonishing multi-instrumental abilities, then came the bluegrass records alongside some of the finest progressive and traditional pickers there are, and amidst them were the live releases and a kids’ album, all styled by his one-word naming convention that somehow always say everything that needs to be said about it. He’s been on his new thing for two of his past three — naming the record after the focal instrument that began on 2011’s Bass and is revisited on this year’s Keys. Williams is also revisiting one of his key influences in the Grateful Dead — first seen on Rex — by exploring the Dead’s most volatile element with a career spanning selection. He’ll be performing the album almost in its entirety and more when he visits Ziggy’s this Friday night. Tickets are $18 in advance and $22 at the door, and the show starts at 9:30 p.m.

Alicia Keys is on fire, but Miguel is cool as ice

Rarely would an artist with multiple Billboard Top 200 number one albums and irreproachable vocal and instrumental skill sets have the potential to be overshadowed by a supporting artist, but that’s the position that Alicia Keys put herself in when she chose rising R&B superstar Miguel as her opener for the Set the World on Fire tour. Her five No. 1 hits seem to pale next to what the “Adorn” singer offers: an impeccable singer/dancer/presence who with cross-genre/demographic/sex appeal who’s reverential of the tropes of R&B forebearers like Marvin Gaye and R. Kelly while ambitiously espousing her own virtues. Last October’s Kaleidoscope Dream was released a month before Keys’ Girl on Fire and while it eventually was forced to get out of the way of Keys’ (incredibly overexposed and overbearing) steamroller, time will tell which is the stronger album. Keys’ headlining tour will come to the Greensboro Coliseum this Saturday with Miguel in support. Tickets start at $50.90 and the music begins at 7:30 p.m.