He’s been praised by Guitar Player magazine for his six-string work, but San Francisco’s Michael Zapruder isn’t just about hot licks and sweet gear. “It’ll be a songwriter thing,” he says of his current solo tour. “When people come to the show, I want them to be excited to hear cool songs.” Shouldn’t be a problem: This Is a Beautiful Town (MichaelZapruder.com), his latest, moved the Village Voice to gush “Zapruder’s little song-nuggets evoke Ron Sexsmith, Tom Petty (without the obvious roots-rock influence), Rufus Wainwright, newer Elvis Costello, and at times, Jackson Browne.” Friday, May 2 @ Todd’s Bar & Grill, 1051 S. 300 West, 328-8650, 9:30 p.m. (with John Vecchiarelli).
THE ATOMIC PUNKS
Here’s the plan: Spend one night with The Iron Maidens (see Music, p. 49), then the other with The Atomic Punks—it’s a Classic Metal Tribute Weekend! Now, if only The Midnight Maniacs (the world’s best Krokus tribute band) would pay a visit. As for The Atomic Punks, you’ll never get closer to experiencing David Lee Roth-era Van Halen (the only VH that ever mattered) than Ralph Saenz & Co. In fact, they’re almost too perfect: Van Halen never replicated their albums as well as these clones ... weird. Friday, May 2-Saturday, May 3 @ Liquid Joe’s, 1249 E. 3300 South, 467-5637, 9:30 p.m.
Then again, there’s always the real thing—excluding singer Kevin DuBrow’s wig, of course. Quiet Riot, as you may recall, brought us the ’80s metal classics “Cum On Feel the Noize” and “Mama Weer All Crazee Now,” even though they never actually billed themselves as a Slade tribute band. After systematically replacing everyone over the years, the original QR regrouped a couple of years ago and released Alive & Well, a live album featuring not only the Slade tunes, but also a cover of “Highway to Hell” ... weird. Saturday, May 3 @ The Ritz, 2265 S. State, 7 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499 (with The Pedestrians and Kettlefish).
JOHNNY MARR & THE HEALERS
“If I’d tried to form a group in the environment of The Smiths’ split, it would have been so loaded with significance that the music wouldn’t have stood a chance,” says alt-rock guitar legend (and now also singer) Johnny Marr, explaining why it’s taken him 15 years to do his own thing. “Once I identified my sound I was able to see where I could or couldn’t go.” Where he went was Boomslang (iMusic), his debut album with The Healers, a solid Brit-rock outing even without the dulcet drone of Morrissey—what’s become of that guy, anyway? Sunday, May 4 @ Bricks, 579 W. 200 South, 8:30 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499 (with PaloAlto).
“It can be a little lonely sometimes being a girl with a guitar,” admits Dar Williams. “I wanted to reach out into the world.” The singer-songwriter is referring to the extensive guest list of musicians on her excellent new Beauty of Rain (Razor & Tie), including members of the Dave Matthews Band and Medeski, Martin & Wood, as well as Alison Krauss and Bela Fleck. “We grabbed people as they came through New York City,” she says. “We took our time and built a real atmosphere of intimacy which we think comes through on the record.” Sunday, May 4 @ Harry O’s, 427 Main, Park City, 9 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499 (with Ben Taylor).
The name gives it all away: El Paso’s Pissing Razors are a quaint lil’ bluegrass combo. No, wait, that’s El Campo’s Pissing Razors—gotta keep these Texas bands straight. The outfit descending upon SLC are metal with a capital M-E-T-A-L, the full-on thrash variety that’s more about over-the-top chops and old-school intensity than big pants and beanies. “Extreme music needs an extreme name,” drummer Eddy Garcia says of the band’s moniker. “I think if anyone has shied away from the name, they probably wouldn’t like the music.” Monday, May 5 @ The Ritz, 2265 S. State, 7 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499 (with 40 Grit, Luxt, Society 1, Circle 7 and Cryptobiotic).
Houston-via-San-Francisco’s Dirty Rotten Imbeciles were the link between hardcore punk and thrash metal circa the ’80s, when the albums Crossover (’87) and Thrash Zone (’89) ripped open a new genre—but don’t cry for D.R.I. that they’re not celebrating their 20th anniversary in stadiums. “If we had started getting air play and exposure, we would have become what we never wanted to be,” says guitarist Spike Cassidy. “We never wanted to be a big rock-star concert band; we’re into the small clubs and just having fun.” Monday, May 5 @ The Junction, 4991 S. Highland Dr. (Cottonwood Mall), 8:30 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499 (with New Society of Anarchists).
“I fight my personality all the time, and I’m kind of schizophrenic; I hate the way I’m really flip-floppy,” songsmith extraordinaire Vic Chesnutt once told The Onion. “I can never make a decision, because I see every side of the argument equally.” Which may or may not explain why, after over a decade of making purposefully sparse and raw albums, he’s turned around and released Silver Lake (New West), with the kind of backing instrumentation and production you’d expect from a major-label disc, even though he was dropped from Capitol years ago. Flippy-floppy, indeed. Monday, May 5 @ The Zephyr Club, 301 S. West Temple, 355-2582, 9:30 p.m. (with Andrew Bird).
OPETH, LACUNA COIL
Since we’ve written about, oh, 74 or so Swedish bands in the past year, we’re going to have to pass on Stockholm’s Opeth in this metal-heavy week (sorry, it’s a cap set by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies; no way around it). Milan’s Lacuna Coil, on the other hand, are fair game—hey, we never get Italian bands. Those going ga-ga over Evanescence would do well to check out the far heavier hypnotic crush of Lacuna Coil, entwined singers Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, and a live show that’s been called “a sensory overload of the highest order. In one word: intoxicating.” Tuesday, May 6 @ Bricks, 579 W. 200 South, 8:30 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499.
Tomahawk, Melvins (Bricks, May 8). Lamb of God (The Junction, May 8). Chris Whitley, Johnny Society (Zephyr Club, May 9). Bad Religion (Bricks, May 9). Grand Master Flash (Suede, May 9). Built to Spill (Bricks, May 14). Bob Weir & RatDog (Suede, May 14). The Coral, PaloAlto (Zephyr Club, May 18). Stone Sour (Bricks, May 20). Verbena (Zephyr Club, May 23). Classic Rock’s Main Event (Delta Center, May 28). Honda Civic Tour (E Center, May 29). Matchbox Twenty, Sugar Ray (E Center, May 31). Neko Case & The New Pornographers (Liquid Joe’s, June 6).