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by Ryan Snyder

upcoming shows you should check out

YOU MAY SEE ME TONIGHT WITH AN ILLEGAL SMILE

I’m almost afraid to recommend traveling to Cary Friday night to see John Prine, particularly since not everyone is familiar with the artist and you might require that I attempt to describe the man’s music. Well, that’s easier said than done, but here goes. To say that Prine is an Americana treasure would be selling him well short. Prine is an American treasure. I’ll start by saying he’s a songwriter that deserves to be included in the same echelon as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen, but unlike those artists, the word “underrated” will always be the best descriptor ever applied to him. But how can that be? He’s written so many brilliantly touching songs like “Sam Stone,” “Angel From Montgomery” and “Hello in There,” but just as many hilarious ones like “Illegal Smile” or “She is My Everything,” but he’s never had a movie made about him. His first review was a glowing summation of a gig at Chicago’s Fifth Peg in 1970 while Prine was still working as a mailman. That review was written by Roger Ebert. A year later, Kris Kristofferson introduced him before a show as a guy “so good that they might have to break his thumbs.” He has an upcoming album in tribute to him called Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows, which contains covers by artists like Drive-By Truckers, My Morning Jacket and the Avett Brothers, so one might get an idea of the imprint that Prine has made. He’s performing at Koka Booth Ampitheatre in Cary and tickets are $39.50 for lawn and $59.50 for reserved. God help you if seeing Prine isn’t enough, but Old Crow Medicine Show will open. If you’re sad, he might make you a little sadder, but if you’re feeling lonely, then you’ll be among friends. If you’re happy, then he’ll surely make you happier and who knows, he might even play that song about the happy enchilada.

BOY, IF THEIR HUSBANDS EVER FIND OUT…

I’d like to point out one little peccadillo in the press release from the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society for the 24 th Annual Carolina Blues Festival that’s turning up everywhere in verbatim. It’s not that it touts the semi-obscure duo of Debbie Davies and Robin Rogers as the co-headliners, but it does so with the unequivocally chauvinistic tagline “Move over, guys. It’s the ladies’ turn in the spotlight.” It’s as if it lends some kind of novelty status to the fact that a woman can rip a guitar as well as a man, nevermind that mammoth-voiced soul diva Diuanna Greenleaf played the exact same time slot in last year’s festival without that kind of ill-conceived hoopla. But think for a moment about what exactly qualifies an artist in headliner status. It’s intuitive that they’re the last act to perform, as showbiz decorum has dictated in perpetuity that you don’t bill one act as the show’s star and then pay someone else more to play after them. That’s exactly what happened here, though, as vaunted axeman Tinsley Ellis performs as the, uh, following act. Following act. Hmmm, that sounds a little awkward. Probably because the term doesn’t really exist. There’s a wealth of other talent on the bill, however, and you’ll certainly want to check out the incredible Matt Walsh Blues Band as a part of it. The Blues Festival takes place this Saturday in downtown Greensboro’s Center City Park from 1 p.m. until around 10 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance and $30 at the gate.

THE UNOFFICIAL PIEDMONT BLUES FESTIVAL AFTER-PARTY

It’s possible that the best blues you hear all weekend will happen over at the Green Bean, as lead guitarist for the fantastic swamp rockers JJ Grey & Mofro, Daryl Hance, plays an intimate set on the coffee shops tiny stage in support of his forthcoming debut solo album. He’ll actually be in Greensboro all weekend long, as he lends his strings to help out Amelia’s Mechanics the night before in Center City Park, but he’s here in all his electric majesty at the Bean. He’ll split the bill with Sarah Blacker, who’s still earning her label as “Boston’s Joni Mitchell” with her smoky folk stylings. The show at Green Bean starts at 8 p.m. and admission is TBA.

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