DEATH BY SALT
Coinciding with SLUG’s 15th anniversary, the local rock rag’s ambitious triple-disc compilation of local music, Death By Salt, hits SLC’s squeaky-clean streets tonight. Who’s on it? Super secret! Even the 59 painstakingly chosen bands (out of 200 submissions—yes, really) don’t yet know if their song passed SLUG muster. Hint: Bob Moss, Numbs, Purr Bats, Starmy (Thursday), Mental Midgets, Coyote Hoods, Hudson River School, New Transit Direction (Friday), Nihm, Gerald Music, The Switch and Red Bennies (Saturday) probably aren’t performing for Death By Salt’s three-night release party for naught, kids. THURSDAY, Feb. 19 & SATURDAY, Feb. 21 @ The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m. Also: FRIDAY, Feb. 20 @ Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 8 p.m. All-ages. Info: www.slugmag.com.
MEDESKI, MARTIN & WOOD
New York City renegade-jazzbos-turned-unlikely-jam-heroes Medeski, Martin & Wood finally broke down and paid Utah an official visit last year after snubbing us forever—so now they’ve returned in less than six months? Sounds suspiciously like a jam-band’s tour sked. “We’re really not trying to appeal to that world,” bassist Chris Wood told City Weekly in August. “It just happened. But we do have a lot of different sides to us musically, so we could easily alienate that community in the near future.” Best experience the instrumental ecstasy of MMW now, bra. THURSDAY, Feb. 19 @ Suede, 1612 Ute Blvd. (Kimball Junction), Park City, 9 p.m. Info: 435-658-2665.
HOT BUTTERED RUM STRING BAND
Speaking of hippies, er, jam-bands, San Francisco bluegrassers Hot Buttered Rum String Band travel, à la Ken Kesey’s psychedelic ’60s bus (says here), in a veggie-oil-fueled rig—they care about the environment, people. The acoustic fivesome’s debut, In These Parts (HotButteredRum.net), is accordingly socio/enviro-minded, a deceptively traditional sounding display of virtuoso pickin’ and sweet harmonizin’ all over the ’grass, folk and jazz maps, dragged into the now with requisite Dubya bashing on tunes like “Reckless Tex.” Don’t forget to check out the bus—that’s probably not veggie oil you’ll be smelling. FRIDAY, Feb. 20 @ Piper Down, 1492 S. State, 9 p.m. Info: 468-1492.
How fast does DJ culture move? Lenny Fontana’s only been spinning since the ’80s, but he’s already referred to as a veteran and, in some instances, a “geezer.” The house-music guru is also renown as a remix artist, with a discography longer than younger “international greats” jet set combined. And to think it all came from the dreaded “D” word: “The love of disco music,” Fontana says of his inspiration. “I love to associate myself with great music and I feel that disco symbolized a happy time, and that is what I try to do with the music I’m involved in.” SATURDAY, Feb. 21 @ W Lounge, 358 S. West Temple, 9 p.m. Info: 359-0637.
“That everyone believes that all of hip-hop is rap music, and that when you say ‘hip-hop,’ it’s synonymous with rap,” biz icon KRS-One told The Onion of his biggest beef with today’s game. “When you say hip-hop, you should be thinking about breakdancing, graffiti art or MCing—which is the proper name for rap—DJing, beat-boxing, language, fashion, knowledge, trade. You should be thinking about a culture when you say ‘hip-hop.’” The man behind Boogie Down Productions, one of the most influential political and social hip-hop outfits of the genre, oughta know. So, where does (ha!) Chingy fit it? SATURDAY, Feb. 21 @ Harry O’s, 427 Main, Park City, 9 p.m. Info: 435-647-9494.
Satirical folkie (or folksy satirist) Ken Shaw began his musical career in New England in the early ’80s; proving he does indeed have a warped sense of humor, he moved to mirth-averse Utah soon after. He managed to stay busy but, since the release of 1996’s Beehive Burlesque, Shaw has been off the performance radar—realistically, you can call this a comeback. “I’ve got a fresh set, with new attacks on hegemony, Bush, polygamy and the Main Street Plaza,” the man says. “I’m looking to burn bridges and clear landscape.” SUNDAY, Feb. 22 @ First Unitarian Church, 569 S. 1300 East, 7:30 p.m. Info: 582-8687 (with Salt Licks).
TOOTH & NAIL TOUR
Further Seems Forever, Anberlin, Me Without You, Watashiwa, Emery, all bands on the kinda-Christian Tooth & Nail label, touring together—hence the simple-yet-effective name, Tooth & Nail Tour. Such package tours always have at least one must-see breakout band on the undercard, and the TNT’s is Me Without You, a hyper-passionate Philadelphia screamo outfit who invite easy At the Drive-In comparisons and pretty much leave their tour-mates in the power-riff dust. Seek out their fiery debut, A to B Life, and try to show up on time. MONDAY, Feb. 23 @ In the Venue/Sound, 579 W. 200 South, 6 p.m. All-ages. Info: 328-0255.
ENGINE DOWN, STATISTICS
You may remember Statistics main man Denver Dalley from Omaha’s Desparecidos, they of the acclaimed 2002 record Read Music/Speak Spanish; he was the guy who wasn’t Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst. What’s the diff with Statistics? It’s Dalley’s show, and the rock has been slightly hushed in favor of a shimmering sonic panorama that could be the soundtrack to an as-yet-produced P.T. Anderson epic—it’s called Leave Your Name (Jade Tree), look for it on every other music mag’s year-end list come December. And Engine Down? Yeah, they’re cool, too. TUESDAY, Feb. 24 @ Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 8 p.m. Info: 320-9887 (with Nihm).
BASTARD SONS OF JOHNNY CASH
In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s Alt-Country February at City Weekly, and no band twangin’ has a cooler name than the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash—the San Diego quartet even won the late Man in Black’s approval for it. “They [Johnny Cash and his band] had our cassette in their tour bus,” singer Mark Stuart says. “When I talked to him on the phone, he named off all the songs on the tape and told me which ones were his favorites.” BSOJC’s last collection of favorites, 2002’s Distance Between (Ultimatum), is also recommended. WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25 @ Sound, 579 W. 200 South, 9:30 p.m. Info: 328-0255.
Voodoo Organist (Burt’s Tiki Lounge, Feb. 28). Phunk Junkeez (Liquid Joe’s, Feb. 28). Julian Marley (Suede, Feb. 28). Lucero (Albee Square, March 1). The Elected (Kilby Court, March 1). Dillinger Escape Plan (Albee Square, March 2). Rebirth Brass Band (Suede, March 2). Sage Francis (Albee Square, March 4). Ima Robot (In the Venue/Sound, March 6). Joan Baez (Kingsbury Hall, March 10). 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).