When singer-songwriter Stephen Ashbrook abandoned his longtime digs of Phoenix for the more musician-friendly climes of (wait for it) Portland last year, some likened it to Bruce Springsteen leaving New Jersey, or even Wayne Newton beating it out of Las Vegas. For years, Ashbrook fronted Phoenix favorites Satellite before striking out solo with three albums of Mellencamp-ish rock with tinges of Steve Earle and Warren Zevon—the latest being American B-Sides. “This record finally sounds like me,” he says. “It’s not too perfect. It’s not too raw. It sounds real to me.” Friday, Nov. 29-Saturday Nov. 30 @ The Element, 7 E. 4800 South, 288-0819, 9:30 p.m. (Friday with Ghostowne; Saturday with SuperSoFar).
Is it 38 Special all over again? Have Memphis metalheads Saliva gone wuss-rock? For the most part, the band’s new Back Into Your System (Island) is a neutered shadow of last year’s slammin’ Every Six Seconds, but singer Josie Scott has an explanation: “Music has always been about freedom,” he says. “In Memphis, we’ve learned from the best—Elvis, Al Green, Aretha. Elvis did everything from gospel to ‘Viva Las Vegas,’ sang about everything from Jesus to the Devil.” And you know how E ended up—yep, better off than 38 Special. Saturday, Nov. 30 @ Xscape, 115 S. West Temple, 5:30 p.m. Tickets: 877-548-3237 (with Audiovent and Theory of a Deadman).
“I’m still a listener first, and my standards are very high,” says country vet Hal Ketchum of his seventh album, Lucky Man (Curb). “I don’t record anything that doesn’t move me, so I’m very particular about what’s on an album.” When you’re a songwriter who claims over 600 (!) tunes, you’ve got that luxury. “The key to me is when I hear something, I write it down or sing it into a tape recorder or I’ll call my answering machine. Anything to make sure that I don’t lose it!” Oh, plenty more where those came from … Saturday, Nov. 30 @ The Eccles Center, 1750 Kearns Blvd., Park City, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: 435-655-3114.
You know Christmas is just around the corner when the new-age keyboardists start coming to town and you can’t tell ’em apart without a nice watermarked eggshell scorecard from Williams Sonoma. What’s David Lanz’s hook? He’s the king of kicking out the ethereal jams in … hospital birthing rooms. “When I am on tour, I am constantly introduced to children, by their parents, who were born to the sounds of my music in their hospital rooms,” Lanz says. “Several of these parents have even sheepishly admitted that their children were also conceived to my music!” All together now: Eeewww. Saturday, Nov. 30 @ Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah, 8 p.m. Tickets: 355-ARTS.
There are those who will argue that Amp energy drink is far tastier than Red Bull or any of those other pricey little cans o’ Taurine—it’s not one of the great intellectual debates of our time; just sayin.’ The Amp Tour, on the other shaky hand, can be summed up thusly: 8 Stops 7 is Metallica mixed with Matchbox Twenty (corresponding drink: Amp & vodka), Bemus is Linkin Park stirred into 311 (Amp & tequila), and Anyone is Incubus with a sidecar of Jane’s Addiction (Amp & rum). Saturday, Nov. 30 @ The Zephyr Club, 301 S. West Temple, 355-CLUB, 9:30 p.m.
BONE, THUGS N’ HARMONY
As the Cleveland four who put the Midwest on the hip-hop map with rapid rhymes and furious G-funk attitude in the ’90s, the Brothers Bone (Krazie, Lazie, Bizzy and Wish) took the odd tact of sampling soft-rock twit Phil Collins’ “Take Me Home” for a cut on their new Thug World Order (Ruthless), “Home.” We know the music; what’s the message? “Sometimes things drain you,” says Krayzie. “You get tired of the bullshit, of arguing, of being tired of shit that you shouldn’t even be fighting for. Sometimes you just want to get away, go home and just chill, disappear.” Sunday, Dec. 1 @ Xscape, 115 S. West Temple, 9 p.m. Tickets: 877-548-3237.
90 DAY MEN
Sometimes misprinted as “90 Gay Men” (soon to be a Broadway musical), Chicago foursome 90 Day Men fall in that naggingly broad genre of “post-rock,” where all things prog, math and hardcore are dumped for the indie crowd to figure out for themselves. Their debut, 2000’s (Is (It) Is) Critical Band, made Spin’s year-end list alongside the telling likes of PJ Harvey, Radiohead and Badly Drawn Boy, and 90 Day Men’s new To Everyone (Southern) continues their arty arc with jazzy-pop flourishes and nice lyrical couplets like “God, Morrissey is such a bitch/But at least he’s right.” Tuesday, Dec. 3 @ The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 746-0558, 9:30 p.m.
Portland isn’t exactly known for its hip-hip flava, but gritty-funky City of Roses crew Lifesavas are out to change that: With only a pair of releases out on DJ Shadow’s Quannum Records, Livesavas were named one of Urb Magazine’s Top Acts to Watch in 2002. “We had grunge in Seattle, we had hip-hop on the East Coast, and we need something else, right here now,” Lifesava Versatyl told the Mercury. “The world already loves hip-hop, and Portland’s gonna be there next.” Does that mean all of Salt Lake City’s rappers are moving there now, too? Wednesday, Dec. 4 @ The Zephyr Club, 301 S. West Temple, 355-CLUB, 9:30 p.m.
One Man Army (Bricks, Dec. 5). Clumsy Lovers (Zephyr Club, Dec. 5). Tori Amos (E Center, Dec. 7). Altan (Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Dec. 7). Creed (Delta Center, Dec. 10). Brad Paisley (Dee Events Center, Dec. 11). Kurt Bestor (Abravanel Hall, Dec. 13-19). Four Bitchin’ Babes (Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Dec. 13). Def Leppard (E Center, Dec. 14). Bacon Brothers (Eccles Center, Dec. 14). El Vez (Zephyr Club, Dec. 18). Jim Brickman (Kingsbury Hall, Dec. 19). Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash (Zephyr Club, Dec. 19). Guitar Shorty (Dead Goat Saloon, Dec. 23). Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons (Zephyr Club, Dec. 27-28). The Used (Xscape, Jan. 3).