THE SUN RA SHALL BE TURNED TO DARKNESS, AND THE MOON TO JAMES “BLOOD”
Jazz and blues aficionados should be foaming at the mouth in anticipation for the upcoming weekend of performances at Duke University. Actually, anyone with a working pair of ears would do well to get on board with either of the jaw-dropping bills that Duke Performances has on tap. James “Blood” Ulmer, one of the most underappreciated bluesmen possibly ever, headlines the Friday night performance, with rising blues and roots stars the Corey Harris Quintet sharing the bill. It’s impossible to use such a simple term like “blues” to describe Ulmer, since his inimitably tattered voice and jagged, piercing guitar style transcends every conventional belief about the blues. Yet, he’s a black man from a poor South Carolina cotton town with pain in his words and fire in his guitar, so for the dilettante, “the blues” will work. It gets even more exciting Saturday night, with a pair of world-renowned jazz orchestras celebrating the works of deceased masters from entirely different stratums. If you missed the interstellar jazz exploration of Sun Ra Arkestra at Trinumeral, I’m sorry for you, but here’s a shot at redemption. They’ll share a bill with the Mingus Big Band, celebrating the works of revered bassist Charles Mingus and called by Time Out NY “the hippest big band in the universe.” The James “Blood” Ulmer show takes place at Reynolds Industries Theatre on Friday at 8 p.m. and tickets are $22 and $28. The Sun Ra Arkestra and the Mingus Big Band play Saturday at Page Auditorium at 7 p.m. and tickets are $26 and $32.
LUCINDA AT THE CAROLINA THEATRE
Like Mike Tyson, the outdoor concert season is slowly fading into Bolivian, but fortunately the indoor one will be in full swing before you know it. The Carolina Theatre has a pretty awesome schedule on tap and it begins with one of the most revered names in all of Americana. It’s hard to believe that Grammy Award-winner Lucinda Williams has been recording for 30 years, but she still has managed to keep that hot, bad-girl appeal through it all. Williams will be performing one long set of songs from her entire catalogue, accompanied by her band Buick 6, at the Carolina Theatre this Friday. She’s long been known for taking her sweet time in the creation of her albums, though that has changed of late and her most recent album, Little Honey, comes on the heels of an especially productive period. It hit number one on the Canadian and Australian Country music charts, but barely cracked the Top 10 here, which is a somewhat disdainful commentary on our own tastes. Tickets are $32.50, $28.50 or $24.50 and the show starts at 8 p.m
IT’S LIKE REM WITHOUT MICHAEL STIPE
A retro-indie rock geek’s wet dream will materialize in corporeal form this Saturday at the Cat’s Cradle, as a trio of under-the-radar side projects, ironically all with practically the same members, will share the stage. It’s hard to say where the Minus 5 (www.minus5.com) or the Baseball Project (www. thebaseballproject.com) begins and the Steve Wynn IV (www.stevewynn.net) ends, but despite the severe overlap in personnel, there’s plenty of musical variation among each of them. With the Young Fresh Fellows on hold in the early ’90s, Seattle singer-guitarist Scott McCaughey launched the Minus 5 with Peter Buck of REM (for whom McCaughey has been a concert sideman since 1995). The current lineup also occasionally features REM drummer Bill Reiflin, while McCaughey and Buck carry over into the Baseball Project, which is rounded out by Linda Pitmon and Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn. The latter two head up the Steve Wynn IV, which also features — surprise — Buck and McCaughey. It’s musical incest at its most magnanimous. Tickets are only $12 in advance and $15 at the door and the show starts at 9 p.m.