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.
I wrote a review of the Dave Rawlings Machine show Sept. 23 at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane, Washington. You can read the review at The Inlander.
IL SOGNO DEL MARINAIO, THE URBAN LOUNGE, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 9 p.m., $12
As an unabashed Mike Watt fanatic, I’ll readily admit that if the other two guys in Il Sogno Del Marinaio were touring through town with an unknown-to-me bass player, I probably wouldn’t have paid them much attention. No doubt that’s the same across the country as Watt’s latest project barrels around, playing 53 shows in 53 days. Watt met guitarist Stefano Pilia and drummer Andrea Belfi a few years back when he took his Second Men band to Italy on tour. The Italian tour promoter hooked Watt up with Stefano to help navigate the country, and they hit it off so well they started jamming, composing enough songs to knock out an album, La Busta Gialla, and do six quick tour dates. They took their time writing and recording a follow-up, the brand new Canto Secondo, and the sound will be familiar to fans of Watt’s jagged, jazzy way leading a band with his bass-playing. As Watt puts it, “I think Andrea and Stefano bring things out in me that maybe would be lost otherwise–not just old stuff but things in the moment, too.” Kiing Tiger opens.