Underground and unexplainable, hip-hop/slam-poetry phenom Sage Francis really is like no MC, white or otherwise, you’ve ever heard—think Eminem with more to discuss beyond Eminem. The Rhode Island (yes, Rhode Island) rapper’s furious flow and jazzy beds on 2002’s Personal Journals longplayer and last year’s politically-aggro Makeshift Patriot EP are well worth seeking out, but he makes no personal claim of uniqueness. “People who think they’re doing something so avant-garde,” Francis told PlayLouder.com. “Ten years from now they’ll look back and want to clip their nipples off with rusty scissors.” THURSDAY, March 4 @ Lo-Fi Café, 165 S. West Temple, 8 p.m. All-ages. Info: 949-6324.
FOGHORN STRING BAND
Says the esteemed (far as you know) Willamette Week, “Foghorn is at the forefront of Portland’s vibrant old-time revival.” They’re not referring to ’toon rooster Leghorn, but the Foghorn String Band, a group of unplugged neo-traditionalists who’ve inspired even too-cool Portland audiences to square-dance once again—be it due to nostalgia or irony. “People are really into the kitsch of square-dancing, because they had to do it in elementary school,” says banjo player P.T. Grover Jr. “It’s really socialist music.” So that’s why it’s hot in P-Town. THURSDAY, March 4 @ The Hog Wallow Pub, 3200 Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd., 9:30 p.m. Info: 733-5567.
BENNETT CALE PROJECT
Who is Bennett Cale and why should you care about his Project, much less his exhaustively named California Rock Folk Soul Invasion Tour? Well, if you’re wistful for all things Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor and the rest of the ’70s SoCal like, Cale’s smooth white-soul stylings are your cup of chai tea. Plus, Tony Danza trivia buffs (represent!) may recognize the singer-songwriter’s name from a very special 1991 episode of Who’s the Boss? “I had this really, really pivotal scene with Alyssa Milano,” Cale says. THURSDAY, March 4 @ Plan B, 268 Main, Park City, 9:30 p.m. Info: 435-615-7588 (with Jay Nash and Krister Axel).
Anyone recall an all-ages Salt Lake City show circa 1991 headlined by some new alt-rock band called Smashing Pumpkins? If memory serves, Billy Corgan still had hair and the local opening act was Bohemia. Thirteen years later, the Pumpkins (and Billy’s hair) are long gone, and Bohemia are finally getting around to releasing their debut full-length CD tonight—talk about slacker careerism. Bohemia (BohemiaTribe.com) is 15 tracks of blistering, futuristic techno-metal that should help them realize their ultimate goal of touring with “Korn and the Village People.” FRIDAY, March 5 @ Halo, 60 E. 800 South, 9:30 p.m. Info: 363-4522.
“Frankenstein” and “Free Ride”—what else do you need to know about Edgar Winter? The albino Texas keyboard wiz may not have scored any hits since those over 20 years ago, but he’s never been off the road. “I’m one of those guys who’s continued to be active; I’ve been playing a hundred shows a year,” Winter told PopMatters. “I intend to continue to do it as long as I possibly can. The old Texas ‘die with your boots on.’ I’ll probably die on the stage.” SATURDAY, March 6 @ The Forum at The Canyons, 4000 The Canyons Blvd., Park City, 3 p.m. Tickets: 435-901-7664 (with Rick Derringer).
The second annual Celtic Stew Music Festival may not feature all of Salt Lake’s Celt bands (there are more than you think, laddie), but the representation ain’t bad: The Utah Pipe Band (6 p.m.), Last Night’s Fun (6:40 p.m.), Dylan Schorer & Steve Baughman (7:30 p.m.), Donegal House Band (8:25 p.m.) and FiddleSticks (9:15 p.m.). If that’s not enough, the party continues further up State at Piper Down with decidedly non-traditional local band King’s Irish, known for their homebrewed “Celtic Metal” covers. SATURDAY, March 6 @ SLCC Grand Theater, 1575 S. State, 6-10 p.m. After-hours party: Piper Down, 1492 S. State. Info: 800-504-7839.
THE SOUNDS, IMA ROBOT
We’ve raved about the new-wave fabulousness of Los Angeles’ Ima Robot before, and now they’re paired with the perfect tour foil: Swedish pogo-poppers The Sounds, fronted by rock & roll coquette Maja Ivarsson, banging Blondie against the garage wall with impunity. The band’s stateside debut, for some reason titled Living in America (New Line), features the insidiously catchy “Seven Days a Week” and more, designed for a singular purpose: “This is all about dancing and having a good time,” says bassist Johan Bengtsson. “We are a major-chord band!” SATURDAY, March 6 @ In the Venue/Sound, 579 W. 200 South, 8 p.m. All-ages. Info: 328-0255.
SLIM CESSNA’S AUTO CLUB
Are Denver’s Slim Cessna and his Auto Club band really sincere in their full-country-press proselytizing of the gospel? The band once described as “Hank Williams yodeling with Mojo Nixon, Carl Perkins and Sid Vicious on a plane filled with drunks as it nosedives into Graceland” are as right with Jesus as anyone, even if they did release last year’s uplifting Always Say Please and Thank You on evil ol’ Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label and insist on performing in heathen nightclubs—remember, you go where the sinners are. TUESDAY, March 9 @ Liquid Joe’s, 1249 E. 3300 South, 9:30 p.m. Info: 467-5637.
When Joan Baez canceled her Utah tour date (she chose to play Portland tonight instead—boo!), looked like we’d be deprived of opener Erin McKeown, too. But, thanks to KRCL 90.9 FM, the buzzed-about Virginia singer-songwriter has been snagged for her own show—who needs Joan? McKeown’s well-named Grand (Nettwerk) is the rare folk-rock record that lives up to “literate,” but doesn’t go overboard. “Someone once told me my record sounded like a term paper,” she told Time Out New York. “I was deeply offended.” WEDNESDAY, March 10 @ Huntsman Institute, Sixth Floor Auditorium, University of Utah, 7 p.m. Tickets: 363-1818 (proceeds benefit KRCL).
Decemberists (Halo, March 11). Great White (Phat Tire Saloon, March 13). Bob Weir & Ratdog (Harry O’s, March 13). The Temptations (Kingsbury Hall, March 13). The Catheters (Kilby Court, March 15). Sam Bush (Port O’ Call, March 17). A Perfect Circle, Mars Volta (E Center, March 18). Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons (Egos, March 19-20). Barenaked Ladies, Howie Day (E Center, March 20). Death Cab For Cutie (In the Venue/Sound, March 22). Brubeck Brothers (Sheraton Center, March 22). Tesla (E Center, March 24). Psychedelic Furs (Plan B, March 25). Ming & FS (Harry O’s, March 26). Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson (Delta Center, March 26).