One of America's best songwriters opens the week--Lucinda Williams at Deer Valley--and one of the country's best up-and-coming indie bands to cap it off over the weekend, courtesy of an appearance by Baltimore-based Wye Oak. There are plenty of great opportunities all week long for you to explore.
LUCINDA WILLIAMS, DEER VALLEY, MONDAY, 7 P.M., $35-$65
Simply put, Lucinda Williams is one of America's best songwriters, and for evidence of that, you can pretty much pick up any of Williams' albums. 1998's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is widely considered her best collection, and since that release she's been putting out albums at a pretty good clip--five albums since 2001, including last year's Blessed, plus a live record. As a live performer, she's a mercurial one; I've seen Williams deliver some of the most brilliant shows of my life, and I've also seen a couple of near-trainwrecks, including one rant-filled night at Red Butte Garden a few years back. Much like each time she unleashes a set of new songs, though, Williams' concerts are always worth catching, just to hear her perform some of the best roots-based rock songs of the past quarter-century. Jill Sobule opens the show.
JOSH RITTER, RED BUTTE GARDEN, TUESDAY, 7:30 P.M., $37
We westerners love to claim Josh Ritter as a favored son thanks to his roots in Moscow, Idaho, but Ritter's more wide-ranging in his influences than his small-town upbringing would seem to indicate. Rather than pack his tales with imagery from the big lonely West, Ritter's narratives are universally appealing, which has helped him became a popular attraction in Europe and his adopted home of New York City. With his long-time group The Royal City Band, Ritter is a regular visitor to Salt Lake City, and it will be hard to beat seeing him at Red Butte Garden. Joe Purdy opens the show.
SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS, TOWER THEATRE, WEDNESDAY, 7 P.M., $8.75
Rarely does a band plan out its own demise--they typically just sort of fall apart between projects, or in a blow-out fight. Not so for LCD Soundsystem, the dance-rock project led by James Murphy that had the foresight to film it's last concert at Madison Square Garden. Throw in writer Chuck Klosterman chatting with Murphy throughout the day of that last show, and you have the makings of this Sundance flick. It's playing all over the country for one night only, including in SLC at the Tower Theatre. Even though LCD Soundsystem is gone, it's obvious there's still an audience for Murphy's music. This will be more like seeing a concert than watching a movie, you can plan on that.
THE QUICK & EASY BOYS, SNOWBIRD, SATURDAY, 6 P.M., FREE
Portland power-trio The Quick & Easy Boys have been on my radar for a few years, and their energetic blend of punk, funk and psychedelic-rock makes for enthralling live shows. I was first attracted to them when I saw that the band's bio namechecked the Minutemen, My Morning Jacket and Funkadelic in its first line. That's pretty bold, but remarkably, those divergent influences can actually be heard in the Quick & Easy Boys' music. See (and hear) for yourself on Saturday--don't cost nothin'.
WYE OAK/DIRTY PROJECTORS, IN THE VENUE,SATURDAY,7 p.m., $16.50 ADVANCE/$18.50 DAY OF SHOW
Wye Oak's 2011 album Civilian was one of the year's best, and I was lucky enough to catch the band live a few times last year. The Baltimore duo (pictured above) brings considerably more grit and power to their live shows than fellow Baltimore indie darlings Beach House, with singer Jenn Wasner's raspy wail offering one of the more memorable voices in indie-rock. The band has some new material to debut during this summer run opening for experimental-minded art-rockers Dirty Projectors.