Upcoming shows you should check out


As noted in this week’s expansive Best Of, Lexington’s High Rock Outfitters falls just outside the geographic rule of the Triad, but outside of it nonetheless, and is thus ineligible for consideration in the Best Venue categories. But really, who cares? The distances between Winston-Salem and Lexington or High Point and Lexington are comparable with any two other points in the region, and Greensboro is only a smidge further. All the while, High Rock Outfitters boasts one of the best bar fixtures outside of Hoots Roller Bar, and the reclaimed, rusted tin stage backdrop presents the most aesthetically pleasing viewing of any regular venue in the Triad. As for the music, well, this week is a particularly good one to assert its credentials.   On Saturday night, High Rock Outfitters will host the legendary George Porter, Jr., one-fourth of New Orleans legends the Meters and one of the single most influential funk bassists of all time. As interesting as it would be to hear him play solo bass for 90 minutes, he actually has a band backing him — the Runnin’ Pardners — that mostly lacks the name clout of their bandleader, at least outside of New Orleans. Then, on Tuesday, they follow it up with the Lee Boys, one of the finest sacred steel ensembles praises and funks out in equal proportion. Take, for instance, “I’m Not Tired” on their latest album, Testify. The Lee Boys repurpose the ageless melody from the Southern Tones’ “It Must Be Jesus” — the same one that Ray Charles used for “I Got A Woman” — into a shredtastic bit gospel-funk blessed by the voice and guitar of their label benefactor, Warren Haynes. Given the special circumstances of this particular show, you can actually be Warren Haynes on that track for the evening. Tuesdays at High Rock Outfitters are for open jam, and the Lee Boys are there to lead it. Tickets for George Porter, Jr. are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and the music starts at 9 p.m. Tickets for the Lee Boys are $8 and $10 at the door, with the music at 9 p.m.


Another important thing to consider about this week’s superlatives issue is that not all of those who are truly deserving and eligible win. Then, there are some who defy our rather narrow set of music categories altogether, but deserve recognition nonetheless. One of those bands is Winston-Salem’s Wilde Blood, could easily be a contender next year for Best Band; they already have a dynamic, fully formed stage show, and they’re currently shopping their debut album around. Sonically, they’re close to the Touching Pop offshoot of post-punk that France experienced in the late ‘80s: lot’s of shuddering bass, lilting guitar with a heavy dose of flanger, and a detached vocal ambiance on their early recordings. Live, however, there’s nothing distant about it. If there were a Best Of for engaging performer (I’ve tried), singer Haydee Thompson would win it by a landslide. This is a dance band at its core, and part of their procedure is to flay inhibitions. Thus, she’s theatrical to an almost unpredictable degree and willing to do whatever it takes for the audience to come along. At the Garage this Friday, Wilde Blood will play a more intimate stage than their last show, an utterly engrossing performance at Ziggy’s for Phuzz Phest, so don’t be surprised should you go home wearing much of their energy in the form of confetti and glitter. Cover is $6 and the show starts at 9 p.m. with Deaf Poets and Aquatic Ceremony.


Another Memorial Day, another reason to celebrate all the joys of Lil John (with an ‘h’). Now in its 36 th year, Lil John’s Mountain Music Festival is three days of primitive camping, hard liquor and easy picking, like a poor man’s MerleFest without the passive sanctimony. Starting Thursday in secluded Snow Camp, the annual Memorial Day weekend shindig will be headlined by bluegrass greats old and not so old. Returning to headline Thursday night are staples Dailey & Vincent, among the finer southern gospel and bluegrass collectives, and one that keeps adding talented members with the fairly recent addition of BJ Cherryholmes. Also returning to headline Friday night, and with a new lineup is Russell Moore & III Tyme Out, whose classic high and lonesome with a touch of doo-wop has made him a five-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year. His hardware pales to that of a member of Saturday’s early headliner and one of the most unsung bands in bluegrass, Blue Highway, whose dobro player Rob Ickes is the single most awarded instrumentalist in the history of the IBMA with 13 Dobro Player of the Year honors. That’s more than the famed Jerry Douglass, and like Douglas, Ickes harbors a passion for jazz as well, particularly Blue Note hard bop that often makes it into their sets. And sorry, but no Lil John’s All Star Band on the schedule this year. Tickets are $80 for the weekend, though individual day tickets are available as well. !