The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

The Song Show / Wednesday, April 21

The second episode of the quarterly Song Show (hosted by City Arts editor Mark Baumgarten) features a swath of performers stripped down to their most honest and exposed. Showcasing a rare glimpse into the inspiration behind the artists and the music they make, onstage interviews are coupled with intimate performances that prove just how gifted our local musicians are. And while the first Song Show featured some of Seattle's best from across the genre spectrum, this staging—featuring reps from the energetic folk-rock group Hey Marseilles, power-pop ensemble the Lashes, and electro-rap and hipster-hop outfits Mad Rad and Fresh Espresso—seems poised to follow up with no less excitement. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7 p.m. $12. All ages. NICK FELDMAN

Steel Pulse / Wednesday, April 21

In the late '70s, a young reggae band from an inner-city district of Birmingham (England's Detroit) was losing gigs due to their Rastafarian beliefs. Their anti-racist stance linked them to the punk movement sweeping the UK, and they wound up opening for the Clash and XTC, among others. Fast-forward three decades: They've racked up six Grammy nominations, winning once, and they're the lone reggae band to play a Presidential inauguration (Clinton's in '93). A showcase for the singing and songwriting excellence (and world-class dreadlocks) of guitarist David Hinds, Steel Pulse fuses a strong foundation in roots music with a powerful political and social consciousness and takes it to another level onstage. With Selecta Raiford. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $25 adv./$30 DOS. MICHAEL MAHONEY

The Wedding Present / Wednesday, April 21

Even though David Gedge of The Wedding Present is the stereotypical definition of a prickly British rocker, he's managed to spend 25 years delivering the sort of transcendent, aggressive, and literate guitar pop that Americans sometimes seem genetically incapable of creating. But whether because of constant lineup changes or the fact that Gedge basically shuttered the outfit for seven years, these days the band is mostly a fond memory from the late '80s and early '90s. Now Gedge is reliving the past—in honor of the 21st anniversary of the release of The Wedding Present's high-water mark, Bizarro, the band is together, touring, and playing the classic album in its entirety. With Girl in a Coma. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $15. JASON FERGUSON

Band of Skulls / Thursday, April 22  See preview.

Born Anchors / Thursday, April 22

Since the Blood Brothers broke up in 2007, there's been a tangible shortage of smart, listenable post-punk in Seattle. The genre—somewhat dissonant, almost always dark—fell out of fashion early in the aughties and never really found its footing again. (It's not any particular band's fault, but the overexposure of The Used and My Chemical Romance didn't help.) Fortunately, there's Born Anchors to fill the gap. "Deep Cuts," one of many tempo-changing, powerful tracks from their album Sprezzatura (2009), is so full of intricate guitar work and fast drumming that it's hard to believe only three musicians recorded the song. That's the greatest appeal of the Seattle trio: While channeling new wave and punk, their music still manages to sound simple and effortless. With Nazca Lines, Ticktockman, Fireworks. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 9 p.m. $6. PAIGE RICHMOND

David Grisman Quintet / Thursday, April 22–Sunday, April 25

When a player is as obscenely skilled as mandolinist David Grisman, the risk is that their music will be so technically proficient that a performance will slip into auto-snore mode. On the flip side, chances are high that your mind will be sufficiently blown by his or her musical prowess. I've seen Grisman enough times to know that he's capable of tearing open your skull with his colorful acoustic adventures. Taking the instrument where no one has before, Grisman's music has morphed into a vast, swirly trip, informed by practically every genre of music ever played by humans, ever. A friend of the late Jerry Garcia, Grisman's music is akin to the Dead's, if that band's members were straight-A overachievers. In other words, before going off on a musical trip, he first learns all there is to know about where he's headed. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729. 7:30 p.m. $32.50. BRIAN J. BARR

Deer Tick / Thursday, April 22

Rhode Island's Deer Tick plays Americana music in the vein of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers—rootsy, guttural rock-and-roll. The band started as a solo project for then-19-year-old songwriter John J. McCauley III, but now operates as a quartet, including their newest member, guitarist Ian O'Neil, who last year left Titus Andronicus to play with Deer Tick full-time. While Deer Tick lyrics typically skew, in true Americana tradition, toward women, drinking, and the blues, their new single, "20 Miles," has McCauley hoarsely singing such sweet lyrics as "If you're running away/I'm looking for you/And if you've lost your way/I'm seeing you through." With Holy Sons, Jeremy Burk. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $13 adv./$15 DOS. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Holly Golightly / Thursday, April 22  See Music News & Notes.

Dan Bern / Friday, April 23

Dan Bern has changed since entering the public eye with his serious-minded, minimalist folk. In the late '90s, Bern was tagged a "new Dylan" for his strong likeness in sound and style to The Jester. These days, Bern's songs are replete with chiming guitars, up-tempo arrangements, and strongly melodic vocal lines. His lyrics have shifted from overtly serious and darkly melodic to more accessible and genuinely funny. Humor is likely Bern's greatest gift—his delivery is key, treating his funny stuff with no less care and finesse than his more straightforward material. Solid musical craftsmanship, pop charm, and a chuckle: What better way to support Noise for the Needy? With Common Rotation. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 7 p.m. $12 adv./$15 DOS. NICHOLAS HALL

Flight to Mars / Friday, April 23

In 2002, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready went public with his two-decade struggle with Crohn's disease—an inflammatory bowel condition that has no known cure. Since then, McCready has been one of the entertainment world's leading advocates for Crohn's patients, and for the eighth year in a row he'll bring his side band Flight to Mars to the stage for a benefit concert for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Don't expect to hear any Pearl Jam tunes tonight, though—Flight to Mars is strictly a UFO cover band, UFO being the English hard-rock/metal band that features Michael Schenker, one of McCready's guitar heroes. Proceeds from the show will go to CCFA's Camp Oasis, which provides support and activities for children living with Crohn's and colitis. With Sweet Water. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151, 8 p.m. $20. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

Happy Birthday / Saturday, April 24

When Sub Pop signed Happy Birthday last year, the Vermont trio was less than a year old and hadn't recorded any songs. They've since started earning their keep, last month releasing their self-titled debut album. Happy Birthday's first single, "Girls FM," is bouncy, with a strong Pixies-circa–Surfer Rosa feel, thanks to the ragged guitar, drummer Ruth Garbus' sweet and airy vocals, and the humming sing-song chorus. That happy, head-bobbing vibe characterizes the rest of the record, along with frontman Kyle Thomas' extra-nasally voice, his blithe and breezy melodies, and some flat-out rad guitar solos. Sonic Boom Records, 1525 Melrose Ave., 568-BOOM. 3 p.m. Free. All ages. ERIN K.THOMPSON

And the Wiremen / Sunday, April 25

NYC-based And the Wiremen's take on sleepy, warm indie jazz manages to mesh 1920s Berlin, the East Village of 1960, Southern blues, Latin Carnival rhythms, and the eclectic vibe of modern-day Brooklyn, making for some fresh, interesting music for audiophiles with grown-up tastes. Frontman Lynn Wright's vocals are as across-the-board as his influences, sometimes invoking the likes of Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, or post-Zeppelin Robert Plant. ATW's signature track, "Sleep," with its bittersweet, romantic nature and melancholy horns, conjures images of rain-drenched, black-and-white breakup scenes, perfect for those who love some hurts-so-good musical heartache. With Suicide Jack, Eric Apoe. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 8 p.m. $8. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Kids and Animals / Sunday, April 25

If there's a poster band for Seattle's all-ages scene, Kids and Animals is it. They have a Modest Mouse–meets–Okkervil River sound, and self-released an album last year that found heavy rotation on KEXP. Songs like "Solstice"—with harmonized choral vocals balanced with noisy, busy instrumentals—sound like the creation of someone who's been around the scene for years. But the members of Kids & Animals are still kids, with an energy that appeals best to young fans who put more emphasis on the way music feels than how it sounds. The band's live shows are chaotic and lack polish. With more practice—and maybe a little age—singer and guitarist Adam Gaciarz will truly earn the Built to Spill comparisons he's already received. Hard Rock Cafe, 116 Pike St., 204-2233. 3 p.m. $5. All ages. PAIGE RICHMOND

His Name Is Alive / Monday, April 26

Over the years, there's been no pinning down Warren Defever, the prolific mainstay of His Name is Alive. The Michigan native has glided from twitchy dream pop and lush Beach Boys homages to recontextualized soul and blues. Perhaps that's why his albums age so well; they're out of time—and place—the second he makes them. His career has been defined by freewheeling variety. Defever often has a female singer deliver his surreal, romantic lyrics, creating a certain distance between us and him. But his omnivorous taste, askew sensibilities, and dewy production are all over everything he does. With Perfume Genius. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $10. DOUG WALLEN

Afroman / Tuesday, April 27

Although he's best known as the voice behind the quasi-cautionary tale "Because I Got High" that stumbled out of stoners' basements and onto airwaves in 2001, Afroman is actually a prolific Grammy-nominated comedy-rapper with a 12-album catalog filled with cannabis-flavored tracks. His most recent, 2009's Frobama: Head of State, included gems like "Marijuana Malt Liquor" and "Smoke 2 Blunts," a one-up on one of reggae's classic stoner jams. But pigeonholing him according to his subject matter isn't right; the SoCal musician can handle a guitar solo when he wants to. Just don't smoke too many blunts before the show. If Afroman has taught us anything, it's that weed can fuck up all our good intentions. With Faraca, Evergreen One & Todd Sykes. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $13. All ages. NICK FELDMAN

Shelby Lynne / Tuesday, April 27

Shelby Lynne's versatility has always been her greatest gift and exactly what fans have always loved about her. After turning heads with 2008's Just a Little Lovin', a finely crafted collection of Dusty Springfield classics, Lynn returns with Tears, Lies, and Alibis. This new album finds the Virginia-bred diva transitioning seemingly effortlessly from country-soul crooner to Americana troubadour. In support of Alibis, Lynne's current performances are stripped-down acoustic affairs. To catch one of these will be a real treat, as her powerful and husky voice will surely take center stage. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $28 adv./$32 DOS. All ages. JUSTIN F. FARRAR

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