KINKY FRIEDMAN, THE STATE ROOM, Thursday, Dec. 6, 8 p.m., $25
Kinky Friedman might be forever linked with Texas, but the man is truly a national treasure. Forget labels--Kinky calls himself an "author, columnist, musician, beautician and Governor of the Heart of Texas--because you're pretty much guaranteed to find yourself laughing, inspired and entertained whenever you encounter the rabble-rousing Friedman doing something. "Something" right now is what he's calling the "BiPolar Tour," a "fact-finding mission" on the political attitudes of Americans in 2012. Realistically, it means Friedman is hitting the road to deliver performances that combine live music and storytelling/spoken word with some reading from his recently published works, including his best-selling recent tome penned with Willie Nelson, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die. If you check him out, I can almost guarantee you'll be on board the Kinky bandwagon in no time.
THE PUNCH BROTHERS, THE STATE ROOM, Friday, Dec. 7, 9 p.m., $20 advance/$25 day of show
Anyone who's seen Chris Thile play mandolin--in the Punch Brothers, his former band Nickel Creek or as a solo artist--wasn't surprised when he was recently awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, otherwise known as the "genius grant." The fleet-fingered Thile certainly lives up to the MacArthur Foundation's honor for those who “have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The surprising thing was that the Foundation saw fit to recognize a guy playing an instrument many associate with bluegrass "redneck" culture. Thile's Punch Brothers are no rednecks, but they can get rootsy with their tunes. The quartet can also cover the likes of Radiohead to great effect, even while eschewing that band's electronic flourishes in favor of acoustic adventures. Joining Punch Brothers at The Depot is Milk Carton Kids.