What’s former teen blues-guitar phenom Jonny Lang been up to since his last album, 1998’s sizzling R&B-rocker Walk This World (A&M)? Doing guest-shots on Drew Carey (cool), Blues Brothers 2000 (not so cool), turning 21 (sorry, girls) and slipping into that bluesman pattern of not releasing albums for years on end (sorry, fans). “I’d be happy playing on a street corner,” Lang says of the music biz. “Probably happier in a lot of ways, just because there are so many stresses that go along with selling a lot of albums.” Friday, Jan. 17 @ Harry O’s, 427 Main, Park City, 435-647-9494, 9:30 p.m.
MIX MASTER MIKE
How serious is Beastie Boys DJ Mix Master Mike about educating the masses vis-a-vis the wheels of steel? He accepted the opening slot on 2002’s weirdest arena-tour flameout, the Guns N’ Roses “comeback” debacle. Rough gig, even for one of the undisputed best turntablists in the world, a deft killer whose frantic-fluid beats are as much rock & roll as they are hip-hop. “I’m up for challenges,” MMM told MTV.com. “To this day, not enough people know what scratching is. I’m on a mission to convert people and let them know what’s going on.” Friday, Jan. 17 @ Suede, 1612 Ute Blvd. (Kimball Junction), Park City, 435-658-2665, 9 p.m.
SHOWDOWN TO SXSW
Yes, City Weekly’s big Showdown to SXSW Finals are going down on a Saturday this year, with one local band out of four winning the opportunity to hobnob expenses-paid with rock stars and industry weasels at the South by Southwest Music & Media Conference in Austin come March. Print deadlines prohibit listing the finalists here (check www.slweekly.com for the latest updated info), so best to fill this space giving props to co-sponsors Z-24, Mad Dog 102.3, U92, Power 107.9 and the super-tasty Dead Horse Ale, without which we couldn’t get through another year of this. Saturday, Jan. 18 @ The Zephyr Club, 301 S. West Temple, 355-CLUB, 8 p.m.-1 a.m.
Screamo’s first casualty? Could be Piebald frontman Travis Shettel, who shredded his vocal chords recently to the point the band had to cancel tours, including one with (gasp!) Dashboard Confessional. A surgery, some rehab and a funny “Throat Surgery Commemorative T-Shirt” (see it at Piebald.com) later, the Bostonians tapped as one of Rolling Stone’s Five Bands to Watch are back on the road with We Are the Only Friends We Have (Big Wheel), an emo-pop party that’s equally smart-ass and smart. Just be careful out there, Trav—instrumental screamo doesn’t work. Saturday, Jan. 18 @ Xscape Basement, 115 S. West Temple, 8 p.m. Tickets: 877-548-3237.
Sometimes, you’ve gotta give Dave Matthews credit: When R&B-soul-jazz-funk quartet Soulive opened for DM on tour last year, he introduced them every night as “the greatest band in the world.” Soulive are indeed a cut above the acid-jazz instrumental lot, incorporating hip-hop elements into stunning jazzbo excursions on their latest, Next (Blue Note). But, definitions are futile. “Human beings feel the need to label stuff so they can make sense of it,” keyboardist Neal Evans says. “There’s such a large pallet of sounds, why not paint with all the colors?” Saturday, Jan. 18 @ Suede, 1612 Ute Blvd. (Kimball Junction), Park City, 435-658-2665, 9 p.m.
Musicians local and national talk the talk of doing their own thing and refusing to conform to preconceived notions of “marketable” music, but Salt Lake City singer-songwriter Debi Graham walks the walk with a determined swagger that’s seductively intimidating. Her power-percussive acoustic guitar and full-throttle vocals may start at Ani DiFranco, but Graham’s full-length debut being released tonight, Anesthesia (Sanusine.com), proves she has her own bag of tricks. It’s folk, it’s rock, it’s light, it’s dark, it’s Graham’s sensual-to-shattering declarations all over the damn place. With her Full Band behind her, she’s unstoppable. Saturday, Jan. 18 @ The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 746-0558, 9:30 p.m.
Singer-bassist Erik Philbrook’s name sounds eerily close to Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook, and that’s not the only easy comparison between those British power-poppers and Philbrook’s Brilliant Mistakes. The New York band’s Dumb Luck (Aunt Mimi’s) merges classic American guitar jangle, Ben Folds piano-poundage and hooks sweet enough to produce instantaneous cavities. “All of the timeless rock songs have a great beat, a memorable line, an intriguing theme,” Philbrook says. “I also think today’s audiences are much more sophisticated; I think they like it when a song can simultaneously appeal to their head, heart and hips.” Sunday, Jan. 19 @ Cisero’s, 306 Main, Park City, 435-649-5044, 9:30 p.m.
“Reeves is, in every sense, a jazz musician,” opines the San Francisco Chronicle of singer Dianne Reeves. “Her voice—among the most fabulous around—is her instrument, and she improvises both in lyric and melodic delivery.” On her 11th and latest disc, The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughn (Blue Note), a self-explanatory tribute to her biggest inspiration, she shows off where those pipes came from. “I didn’t know the voice could do all that,” Reeves says. “She changed my way of listening, and all of a sudden I had a place to reach for in my own singing.” Monday, Jan. 20 @ Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah, 6:30 p.m. Tickets: 581-7100.
Classic blues and R&B guitar pyrotechnics over DJ-influenced breakbeats and samples—it seemed like natural combo to SoCal six-string wiz Rick Holstrom, who laid down the intoxicatingly groovy brew with Beck and Foo Fighters producer Rob Schnapf on his new Hydraulic Groove (Tone-Cool). It ain’t traditional, but it’s one of the coolest blues discs to drop in years. “Fatboy Slim and Moby, I realized they were just sampling John Lee Hooker recordings and putting beats over it,” Holstrom says. “It made me think I could do the same thing in reverse.” Mission accomplished. Monday, Jan. 20 @ The Dead Goat Saloon, 119 S. West Temple, 328-GOAT, 9:30 p.m.
Sigur Ros (Suede, Jan. 23). Deep Dish (Axis, Jan. 23). G. Love & Special Sauce (Suede, Jan. 24). Juliana Theory (Xscape, Jan 27). BR5-49 (Zephyr Club, Jan. 28). Division of Laura Lee (Xscape, Jan. 28). Alkaline Trio (Bricks, Jan. 29). Richard “Humpty” Vission (Axis, Jan. 30). Insane Clown Posse (Saltair, Jan. 30). Blood Brothers (Xscape, Jan. 31). Victor Wooten (Kingsbury Hall, Feb. 1). Coldplay (Saltair, Feb. 7). Coheed & Cambria (Xscape, Feb. 8). Toad the Wet Sprocket (Bricks, Feb. 10). David Gray (Kingsbury Hall, Feb. 11). Reverend Horton Heat (Xscape, Feb. 13). The Roots (Harry O’s, Feb. 17).