THE LONE BELLOW, THE STATE ROOM, Monday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m., $22
The Lone Bellow’s self-titled debut came out nearly two years ago, and at first I thought the Brooklyn trio’s country-rock sound was a bit slick for my taste. Then I got to see Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist and Kanene Pipkin perform live, and my impression changed in a hurry. The vocal harmonies among the three are truly stunning, and the full scope of The Lone Bellow’s sound came into vibrant focus on stage, far better than on their album. Songs like “The One You Should’ve Let Go” and “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” stick in your head for days after hearing them given the full live treatment, and the touches of gospel, soul and pop that infuse Williams’ songs really shine live. Anyone who went to the rainy Jason Isbell show at Red Butte Garden this summer saw The Lone Bellow brave a downpour and still deliver a killer set. Seeing them in a small club will be a fine way to spend a Monday night. Hugh Bob and the Hustle open the show.
NEW PORNOGRAPHERS, THE DEPOT, Friday, Oct. 10, 9 p.m., $26
Easily one of my favorite bands of the past decade, New Pornographers boasts a remarkable array of talents, led by primary songwriter A.C. Newman, who has a remarkable facility for writing insanely catchy pop-rock. He calls the band’s latest, Brill Bruisers, a “celebratory” collection that reflects on the happy places he is in his personal life. Joining him at the party are New Pornographers regulars Neko Case, Dan Bejar (aka Destroyer), Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Todd Fancey and Blaine Thurier. Now six albums in, I guess we can’t stop calling New Pornographers a side project to the members’ various solo careers and other projects, because this is a band that has developed into a power-pop machine unparalleled in modern rock. And their live shows take full advantage of the members’ unique gifts for harmonies. Consider this a must-see in SLC. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart opens the show.
FELICE BROTHERS, THE STATE ROOM, Thursday, Oct. 9, 8 p.m., $20
I can’t lie, the first thing that appealed to me about the Felice Brothers when I saw them do an in-store at Slowtrain a few years back was a song called “Whiskey in My Whiskey.” Not only did I have a natural affinity for the song’s sentiments, but the combination of old-timey instrumentation and vocal harmonies was instantly appealing. Accordions, guitars, fiddles, drums and piano fill out the New York band’s sound,which they forged playing in the subway stations of New York City after first performing at their dad’s regular Sunday barbecues in the Catskill Mountains. It’s been a couple years since Felice Brothers came through Utah, and their tour in support of new album Favorite Waitress brings them back for what should be a fine little hoedown on a Thursday night. Spirit Family Reunion opens the show.
WANDA SYKES, ABRAVANEL HALL, Saturday, Oct. 11, 8 p.m., $45-$55
Wanda Sykes has been making noise in comedy circles since she was part of an Emmy-winning team of writers for The Chris Rock Show in the late ’90s. Appearances on that show led to her own Comedy Central standup specials, acting jobs on shows like The New Adventures of Old Christine and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and a short-lived talk show. More recently she made a splash for coming out at a lesbian while campaigning against Prop 8 in California–leading a lot of new comedy fodder sure to be part of her show in Utah, home of the Mormon Church, which led the way on the anti-gay rights Prop 8 campaign.
JIM GAFFIGAN, ABRAVANEL HALL, Saturday, Oct. 4, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m., $38.75-$48.75
It many ways, it’s amazing the superstar status that Jim Gaffigan enjoys. He’s obviously a hilarious guy, and his standup comedy and best-selling book Dad Is Fat together propelled him to mainstream success that few could have imagined when he was popping up on sitcoms as a bit player or performing in small clubs just a few years ago. Earlier this year, his Obsessed standup special become the most-watched show on Comedy Central for the year, and this fall he has a new book ready for release, Food: A Love Story, that will almost certainly land on the New York Times’ best-sellers list. He’s doing three shows in Salt Lake City this weekend, and you’d be doing yourself a favor by trying to get to one of them.
GEORGE THOROGOOD AND THE DESTROYERS, THE DEPOT, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m., $40.50
Last summer I joined a couple thousand hearty souls in withstanding a serious downpour that delayed the start of George Thorogood’s show at Red Butte Garden. For me, the decision was driven by the fact I had never seen the man and his long-time band The Destroyers, and they were a major player in the soundtrack of my youth. I never considered Thorogood as seriously as other childhood musical loves like Michael Jackson or R.E.M., but when I needed some loud, energetic tunes to plug in my ears while mowing the lawn, songs like “Bad to the Bone,” “I Drink Alone” and “One Bourbon, One Shot, and One Beer.” Little did I know that those same songs were making generations of pub-rock lovers go crazy. Thorogood’s fans remain pretty hardcore, and the man’s guitar-playing is legitimately worth the price of admission. If straightforward rock ‘n’ roll is something you haven’t seen or heard in a while, this show might be right up your alley. Trampled Under Foot opens.
JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, THE STATE ROOM, Sunday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. $40
The last time we heard from Justin Townes Earle in Salt Lake City, he was a newlywed (to a Utah gal, no less) on the State Room stage last year Christmastime, kvetching in his typical way between songs about dealing with record label pinheads and other travails. And while the banter is always entertaining, if sometimes uncomfortable, it has nothing on the songs Earle delivers. His is a distinct lyrical voice, and his songwriting–always strong–has evolved nicely over the course of his albums. That holds true on his brand new Single Mothers release, a strong addition to an incredibly solid catalog. Now five albums into what will hopefully be a long career, the 32-year-old has never sounded better, even as he remains rooted in the old-school country sound that’s always been his stock in trade. It should be exciting to hear him deliver a slew of new songs in his set this time around. American Aquarium opens the show.