by Ryan Snyder

Upcoming shows you should check out


The New Grass Revival were more than just a group of bluegrass pickers that broke all the rules; they were a band that piqued tastes undiscovered in the most stubborn of string purists and reticent outsiders. They were dusty hippie phenoms, able to pick circles around the best while reworking pop hits to the chagrin of the mainstream bluegrass community. While it was group founder and linchpin Sam Bush that kept their music rooted in the sounds of Monroe, it wasn’t until bassist John Cowan joined the band three years into their existence that all of the group’s possibilities fully took hold. Cowan’s smooth, supple bass style and soulful lead vocals brought them further into the realms of rock and R&B, and eventually the old guard began to accept them. When John Cowan performs this Sunday at South Stokes Auditorium, it will come in a place that’s among the holy places for bluegrass: the county where greats like Lester Flatts and Charlie Monroe spent their last days. The John Cowan Trio, featuring Jeff Autry on guitar and Shad Cobb on fiddle, will be presented by the Stokes County Arts Council and supported by Pilot Mountain-born songwriter Lacy Green. The show starts at 4:30 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.


There hasn’t been an official entry into the book of ska music since OreSkaBand shilled for Pocky, but that doesn’t necessarily discount its vitality; though any genre that inspires a very specific style of dancing will never be want for that. It also doesn’t suggest that the few remaining vessels have slowed down their output, and as the avatars of that mindset, the ironically named Slackers are one of the most prolific ska bands of the past 20 years. The six-man New York City crew have averaged more than one new release every year in their 22 years, play more than 100 dates per year — including a stop at the Blind Tiger this Sunday — and have never lacked in quality. They’ll be joined on Sunday by Greensboro soul-punk trio and local paragons the Leeves and the nine-piece Asheville rocksteady band Common Foundation. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and the show starts at 9 p.m.


He sings, he plays, he spits, he checks IDs, he grubs for change on occasion and most of all, he writes pretty great songs about the inglory of being a Southerner when your own definition is different than that of most. Charlotte folk hero Andy the Doorbum is such for more than his disheveled, slightly (maybe legitimately) crazy appearance; he is for his ability to shift from good-natured, front-porch strumming into a meaner version of Jackson C. Frank without on a whim. His songs are paeans to vice (“Love Song for Cigarettes”) and his writing is as darkly convoluted as Fiona Apple could ever hope to be (see: his 2011 album The Man Killed the Bird, and with the Bird He Killed the Song, and with the Song, Himself). Despite being just a couple of hours down I-85, his trips to the Triad are rather infrequent, but one will come this Wednesday when he visits the Flatiron, supported by Greensboro’s, if not the world’s, first meaningfulcore band Black Santa and Baltimore songwriter McGregor Burns.