Mikolaj Trzaska & Tim Daisy, Bassjackers, Arlo Guthrie

By Free Times
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Tim Daisy | courtesy photo

Thursday 13

Mikolaj Trzaska & Tim Daisy — The best free-jazz duos thrive on familiarity, on the psychic rapport built between their musicians. Polish saxophonist Mikolaj Trzaska and Chicago drummer Tim Daisy share but six years together, working on and off in groups like The Inner Ear Quartet and Ken Vandermark’s Resonance Ensemble. In This Moment, the duo’s soon-to-be-released short-player, doesn’t throw the kind of heat of, say, Daisy’s conflagratory duets with Vandermark. But what it lacks in fire-breathing intensity it more than compensates for in mood and temper, freely tapping into swing rhythms and buoyant melodies that betray the duo’s deep jazz foundations. If it doesn’t blaze, it certainly smolders, a testament to Daisy and Trzaska’s deepening improvisatory bond. — Patrick Wall
Conundrum Music Hall: 9 p.m., $8; 250-1295, conundrum.us.

Friday 14

Kevin Burke & John Carty — Traditional folk music, at its core, is a simple thing, meant to be easily taught and passed down through the generations. Trouble is, we can sometimes forget what it sounds like when some of the most skilled and devoted render it with a rare precision and beauty like Kevin Burke and John Carty do. Both are champions of traditional Irish folk and performers of international renown. Burke is a consummate fiddle player who has toured since the early ’70s, while Carty is a multi-instrumentalist who has recorded solo efforts on fiddle, banjo, and flute. Together, they are an engaging duo who present their tradition as something still flush with possibility.  — Kyle Petersen
Conundrum Music Hall: 8 p.m., $18 ($15 in advance); 250-1295, Link.

Decadence — Science is testable, observable and repeatable. Plug common elements into universal equations, and expected results are produced. “Phase,” from Columbia alt-rock band Decadence, bears more than a passing resemblance to turn-of-the-millennium post-grunge because it’s built from the same materials: drop-tuned guitars; angsty lyrics delivered by an impassioned singer; a bridge that only slightly varies from the main riff. That the end product is not all that dissimilar to the radio-metal hits of 1999 isn’t surprising — it’s the point. Decadence might sound stale in 2014, but for those whose tastes still skew this way, it offers empirical rewards. — Patrick Wall
New Brookland Tavern: 8:30 p.m., $5 ($8 under 21); 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com.

Pick ‘Em

Feb. 13 — Stereofly/SceneSC 4x8 Showcase
This local music communion throws a white-hot spotlight on the art of songwriting and the folks who know how it’s done. Ross Swinson of Release the Dog and Dylan Dickerson of Dear Blanca play alongside Cancellieri maestro Ryan Hutchins and solo artist Ryan Sheffield. Each will be performing original songs in the round and (mostly) without accompaniment. They’re talents all, but Sheffield will probably feel the most at home since he’s one of those bare-bones troubadours who considers a full rhythm section to be a rich man’s burden. He’s the kind of performer who falls back in love with his songs every time he plays them, a joy to watch no matter the occasion.
Red Door Tavern: 8 p.m., free; 764-5196, reddoortavern.net.


Feb. 15 — Acoustic Basement Tour
Full-grown men offering high-pitched catharsis can be appealing at 15, but an artist can only bathe but so long in the fountain of youthful adoration. So while Transit and Hit the Lights can be counted on to rally the youth vote, they also run the risk of being outgrown — not for a lack of talent, but, as forerunners like Thursday and Fall Out Boy have proven, it’s easy for such acts to outstay their welcome. There will surely be plenty of energy and intimacy at this acoustic encounter, but they’re beating a hollow piñata. — Michael Spawn
New Brookland Tavern: 6:30 p.m., $14 ($12 in advance); 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com.

Saturday 15

Bassjackers | courtesy photo

Bassjackers — Bassjackers, as in take that bass knob and jack it all the way up. This Dutch house duo is heavy on the low end, for sure, all thick sub-bass that hits at cranky saw waves. But Marlon Flohr and Ralph van Hilst don’t neglect the opposite end of the auditory spectrum, pairing spare but propulsive four-on-the-floor with big-room synth leads. If real recognize real, then Bassjackers, co-signed by Fedde le Grand and Tiësto, is legit; “Crackin,” “Mush Mush” and “Beat Cut” are all festival-scene hits. Another score for Social, and Columbia’s surprisingly cutting-edge club-music scene. — Patrick Wall
Social: 8 p.m., $5; socialcolumbiasc.com.

Chuck Brodsky — There are storytellers and there are songwriters, but rarely do the two converge in one person the way they have in Chuck Brodsky. His voice is a Dylan-worthy nasal twang, but it’s a perfect vehicle for the quirks of history, sports stories, and idealistic yet realistic treatises that make up Brodsky’s catalog. It’s heavy on baseball; the second installment of his Baseball Ballads series came out in 2013, but he harnesses the national pastime just as he does the foibles of regular folks — as fodder for songs that make us look at ourselves and our world in new ways. — Kevin Oliver
UU Coffeehouse: 8 p.m. $17 ($15 with reservation), $3 for students; 200-2824; uucoffeehouse.org.

Arlo Guthrie — If there were a First Family when it came to American music, the Guthries would be a top contender. The middle-generation flag-bearer since the ’70s has been Arlo Guthrie, who continues to champion his father Woody’s legacy on this current tour celebrating the folk icon’s 100th birthday year, even as Woody’s granddaughter Sarah Lee expands on those traditions with husband Johnny Irion. Through songs from his catalog, his father’s songs, and plenty of stories, Arlo Guthrie takes on the family lore with wit and wisdom gleaned from decades on the road. — Kevin Oliver
Newberry Opera House: 8 p.m., $45; 803-276-6264, newberryoperahouse.com.

Sunday 16

The Vegabonds — Vegabonds lead singer Daniel Allen has a reservoir of white boy soul almost as deep as that of his spiritual godfather, the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson. But unlike the Crowes — who never bet beyond their hand — the Vegabonds are six talented guys who might be experiencing something of an identity crisis. Their hearts are buried deep in the Alabama sand, but they too often veer from their failsafe brand of Southern rock into pop terrain that, in spite of its adventurous spirit, would benefit more from a somber croon than Allen’s currently wolfish howl. The Unlikely Candidates headline. — Michael Spawn
New Brookland Tavern: 8 p.m., $10; 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com.

Tuesday 18

Darkentries — Given that it’s named after a vintage Sunn amplifier used by revered heavies like Isis and Cave In, “1200-S,” the first track leaked from Darkentries’ forthcoming The Make Believe, is fittingly mammoth: Drums slam like sledgehammers; thick, minor-key riffs seem to span continents. Darkentries is heavily indebted to doom, but balances Sabbath-Melvins-Neurosis-like riffage with a post-rock temperament and grinding, black-metal crescendos. Kylesa’s Phillip Cope hand-selected the quintet to be one of the first four flagship bands of his new Retro Futurist label; under Cope’s tutelage, there’s no telling how savage the already brutal Darkentries could get. With No., Ningas Tongas. — Patrick Wall
Foxfield Bar & Grille: 8 p.m., $5; 728-0420.

Wednesday 19

Surfer Blood | photo by Ian Whitlen

Surfer Blood — Pythons, Surfer Blood’s major-label debut, is haunted. It came three years after its debut Astro Coast, and it shares its predecessor’s polished, professional and polite effervescence. Guitars ring loud and clear. Songs sport catchy melodies. And frontman John Paul Pitts’ croon is still easy and dreamy. But marring all that sunshine are some dark clouds. In March 2012, Pitts was arrested for domestic battery against his then-girlfriend. Though no charges were filed, and the case was dropped pending Pitts’ completion of a court-mandated program, it’s hard not to see the trying experience in context of the album’s sour lyrics, a mix of pity and regret, anger and resentment. “I need love / ‘Cause I can’t give it / Never forgive myself,” he mopes on “Blair Witch.” Even “Say Yes to Me,” an earnestly sunny single, is couched in self-loathing: “No one else can lick their wound / The way I do / When I’m with you.” While it’s a natural reaction to Pitts’ woes, it makes for a bitter pairing with Surfer Blood’s cheerier instincts. Now, one wonders how the band will respond to its latest obstacle: getting dropped by Warner Bros. back in January. — Patrick Wall
New Brookland Tavern: 7 p.m., $15 ($13 in advance); 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com.

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