Upcoming shows you should check out
The Queen of Country returns to Greensboro
Country music, the first and realest kind, is a nonrenewable resource. It’s like the helium in the atmosphere — we might take it for granted now, but we’re really, really going to miss it when it’s gone. The passing of George Jones two weeks ago is a powerful, if macabre reminder that the Willie Nelsons, Loretta Lynns, Kris Kristoffersons, Glen Campbells, Merle Haggards and even the Dolly Partons and Kenny Rogerses of the world aren’t getting any younger, even if some of them behave as if they are. Even at 81 years old, the Coal Miner’s Daughter is a certified road warrior. She might look a little frail in those gigantic ballgowns and she may have to sit for extended periods after having multiple surgeries over the past few years, but her working-class, feminist anthems that turned country music on its head more than 40 years ago cut as deep as they ever did. She’ll return to North Carolina for her third show in the state in three years this Friday at the War Memorial Auditorium and though she can’t remember a lot of her 54-album discography, every moment with the real Queen of Country Music is one to be relished. Tickets for the show start at $45 and the music begins at 7:30 p.m.
Robert Randoph, on the coolest label on the planet, in the best room in the state
Despite rarely ever playing a proper guitar on stage and having only one album of original material at the time, Robert Randolph nonetheless was recognized as No. 97 on Rolling Stone magazine’s (somewhat silly) list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in a 2003 issue. Never mind that Kurt Cobain was also named No. 12 on that list; the idea of what constitutes a great guitarist is an everexpanding notion (see SPIN’s incomprehensibly stupid inclusion of Skrillex in their version). What makes Randolph great, however, is that you know is tone the moment you hear it — it’s high and clear as the gospel he draws from and as effusive as the Hendrix he worships — and he’s created it on one of the most complex instruments in the world. As great a player as he is, however, songwriting has always been his Achilles’ heel. He has three studio albums under his belt over the last 10 years despite being a prolific performer, and even the last one, We Walk This Road, was cover-heavy. With his signing to Blue Note Records last month, however, his forthcoming album will mark a return to the playful, high energy sound that made him a festival staple 10 years ago. Robert Randolph & the Family Band come to the Haw River Ballroom this Sunday to debut some of those songs, where they’ll be joined by Burlington’s Big Something. Tickets for the show are $22 in advance and $25 at the door, and the music starts at 8 p.m.
From the heart of country music: Brooklyn, NY
After four albums and a pair of outtakes releases, it should cease to be a novelty that one of the finest and most uncomplicated country bands still flying under the radar of even most informed listeners hails from the crucible of indie-rock experimentation. Yarn are more in tune with the beer-soaked honky-tonks than the fussy imagism of their native surroundings and while the jam-band beginnings of frontman Blake Christiana are still evident — the instrumental influence of Jerry Garcia and David Grisman’s collaborations are heard all over their albums — it’s Christiana’s knack for simple yet pointed songwriting that sets this band apart from the field. The fact that this six-piece ensemble is as technically sound as the most battle-hardened bluegrass outfit is even more suggestive of Christiana’s ability to weave something rich and wonderful. Yarn will visit the Blind Tiger this Friday with one of Charleston’s best bands, the formidable roots-rock outfit Dangermuffin. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door, and the music starts at 9 p.m.