by Ryan Snyder

Upcoming shows you should check out

The jam lives at MantraBash

The marquee outside of Jake’s Billiards is spot on. MantraBash is a beautiful thing. It’s a bit of a moving target datewise — last year it was in June, and it was on hiatus the year before that — but it’s the kind of event where its core brand consistencies supersede the logistical kind. As festival promoters look to find more and more niches to occupy, MantraBash has stayed true to a jam scene that reached its popularity bubble in the mid 2000s. That’s a good thing for MantraBash, which has cultivated the kind of community that made jam-band festivals en vogue a decade ago. They didn’t quite hit the homerun with the lineup that they did last year in snagging Particle, the Robert Walter Trio and Brothers Past, but the Mantras and frequent cohorts Big Something have cultivated the kinds of regional followings that afford the festival the leeway to put it on without a nostalgia act on the bill. The infallible combo of ripping guitars, blinding lasers and smoke, and heavy electronic dance beats are the heartbeat of MantraBash, and this weekend’s festival at the High Country Motorcycle Campgroung in Ferguson will be galvanized by the presence of bass rock warriors Zoogma, Hammond B3 wiz Eli Winderman’s crew Dopapod, a solo set by Perpetual Groove front man Brock Butler, and dozens more. MantraBash goes down this Thursday through Sunday, and four-day passes are $90.

Wasn’t Lil’ John’s Mountain Music Fest just three months ago?

Whereas MantraBash maintains a pre-peak vestige of a scene that burned itself out, it’s hard to imagine that the early to mid 2000s were a difficult time for Lil John’s Mountain Music Festival. The powerful anti-synergy created by the ubiquity of Dave Chappelle’s “A Moment In the Life of Lil’ Jon” sketch and the fact that every music festival in the country was being penetrated by gangs of popped-collars probably made things more than a little uncomfortable for its conservative, regular crowd. But any festival that’s hung around for 35-plus years has seen its share of unwelcome trends, and the Labor Day installment of the three-day, semi-annual pickers’ delight returns in secluded Snow Camp starting Thursday.

This weekend’s event diverges from the festival’s purist bluegrass MO somewhat for a pair of great, traditionallyminded country acts in Kelley & the Cowboys and the Malpass Brothers from Goldsboro, and the festival’s association with the Cherryholmes family continues to pay dividends with a pair of performances by the Skip Cherryholmes quintet. Tickets for the weekend are $70, and you best mind your manners.

Black Flag: The one with Greg Ginn, but not Keith Morris

Like the Wailers, the Temptations or the Beach Boys, sometimes it’s not about who’s in the band, but who owns the rights to the band. Such is the case now with influential Cali hardcore band Black Flag. The band’s founding guitarist Greg Ginn and SST Records own the rights to the band’s name, and Ginn reformed Black Flag earlier this year with vocalist Ron Reyes, though meanwhile, original vocalist Keith Morris and other former members of Black Flag performed the band’s music on and off before finally officially forming as Flag. The natural course of actions followed, and Ginn filed suit against Morris and company over the merch they were selling. The band that was notorious for drawing in all the toughs from the Valley and putting on concerts that were as violent as they were loud — in effect the requisite band for anyone interested in underground music — is now reduced to split allegiances and petty filings. But they are not without merit, and their live performance at Ziggy’s this Monday night will attest. Ginn remains the roué who brought a free-jazz virtuosity to punk and Reyes is still a monster presence, and they don’t skimp out on the set list — 20-plus tracks from all eras with a cherry on top. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and Good for You, featuring skate legend Mike Vallely backed by Black Flag, will open.