This weekend's best live bets: Avett Brothers, Thurston Moore, Chuck Prophet and more

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Welcome to the weekend! Tonight at Red Rocks, the Avett Brothers kick off a two-night stand with City and Colour opening tonight and DeVotchKa opening tomorrow night. Also tonight, Thurston Moore visits the Larimer Lounge with his new quartet Chelsea Light Moving. Cory Branan at the Lion's Lair, Eric McFadden at Quixote's, and the Diamond Boiz at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, Hawthorne Heights at the hi-dive and more. Page down for a full rundown of the weekend's best bets for live music.


THE AVETT BROTHERS @ RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE The country is awash in Americana fever as scores of rock-radio favorites dabble in the sounds of yore. It's part of a search for authenticity when so much pop is heavily synthesized, and partially a need for the warm, fuzzy blanket of an imagined yesteryear. Though it might be cute, many of the current banjo-picking types fail to elevate their style beyond gimmick. A huge exception is the Avett Brothers, a North Carolina act helmed by, yes, brothers Scott and Seth. Sure, they're nominally folk-influenced, with their relatively stripped-down, deeply earnest sound and penchant for things like harmonicas. But what sets the Avetts apart is a serious, genre-defying talent for songwriting. Their melodies soar and stick, regardless of the folksy window dressing.

THURSTON MOORE @ LARIMER LOUNGE Thurston Moore has used the electric guitar in more interesting ways than most anyone else you could name in terms of using and abusing and expanding and transcending the traditional limitations of the instrument. As one of the founding members of Sonic Youth, Moore took what he had been learning with Glenn Branca and Swans and helped forge one of the most enduringly original sounds in rock music over the past three decades. Combining dissonance and outright noise with timeless melodies, Moore made the true underground more accessible. His latest album, Demolished Thoughts, a more or less solo effort, reveals in no uncertain terms Moore's ability to write solid pop songs gilded with introspective poetry and a lush melancholia -- a halo of intimacy perfect for this small club appearance.

CORY BRANAN @ LION'S LAIR All too often, contemporary performers who wave the Americana banner squeeze the juice from the music they venerate, presenting dry, academic variations on rootsy styles as if fearful that having fun with them might appear disrespectful. Fortunately, Mississippi-bred singer-songwriter Cory Branan knows better. On 2006's 12 Songs, he cuts loose throughout raucous raveups such as "The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis" and "Hell-bent and Heart-first," not to mention the rollicking "Muhammad Ali," which finds him declaring, "It ain't braggin' if it's true/Said Muhammad Ali/And me." That's not to suggest he's only interested in providing soundtracks for beer-guzzling: The disc features several tender airs, including "Love Song #11 (Secretly Enamoured)" and the plaintive "Sweet Janine." But even during his simplest and most sensitive numbers, he keeps his performances loose, allowing his emotions to flow through unimpeded by musicological self-consciousness. Branan pays tribute to tradition without being hamstrung by it.

ERIC MCFADDEN TRIO @ QUIXOTE'S TRUE BLUE The Eric McFadden Trio could just be the Band of Gypsys for the new millennium, a fact not lost on McFadden, who not only borrowed a few tricks from Hendrix, but even called his previous band the Eric McFadden Experience. In all fairness, though, McFadden's scope runs wider. On 2005's Joy of Suffering, for instance, he goes from heavy rock riffage to dusty Ennio Morricone-inspired spaghetti-Western twang, even adding in a bit of Latin, flamenco and gypsy. His wicked mandolin chops, however, are what caught the ear of George Clinton, who invited the axman on tour with him in 2000. Beyond his nimble-fingered excursions on both nylon-stringed and electric guitars, McFadden also has a resounding voice, which draws frequent comparisons to Tom Waits, for whatever reason. Sure, there's a bit of the Waitsian carnivalesque drawl, but without the gravel. His delivery is more reminiscent of Nick Cave.

DIAMOND BOIZ @ CERVANTES' MASTERPIECE BALLROOM See Also: Boiz to men: Diamond Boiz call up the past and look to the future I remember staying up all night just hanging out with my friends, and randomly there would be gunshots and cop cars everywhere," recalls José Bonilla, aka Zé of Diamond Boiz. "That's just something we took for granted." Remarkably, the MC, who grew up in Denver's Westwood neighborhood, never got involved in gangs or drugs. "We knew what to stay away from." Zé's the youngest of the Diamond Boiz by a couple months. His cohorts, brothers Justin and Joshua Romero (alias Dyalekt and Zome, respectively), spent their childhood near Dartmouth and Federal and were no strangers to gunfire themselves.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows. Page down for rundown of tomorrow night's best bets.


CHUCK PROPHET @ THE WALNUT ROOM Every aspiring guitarist who taped a copy of Big Star's Radio City went on to start his own band. That's conventional wisdom. But what about the misfits who scrounged a burn of Alex Chilton's Like Flies on Sherbert or treasured a bootleg LP of his late-'70s Elektra demos? On Soap and Water, former Green on Red guitarist Chuck Prophet answers that question. It's a catchy, accurate recasting of Chilton's terrified insouciance and sickening pop modulations, and if it occasionally descends into pastiche, it scrubs behind Chilton's ears with a loving touch. Prophet might not sing as snidely as the Memphian did on such numbers as Sherbert's "Hey! Little Child" (referenced here on "Heart Beat"), but he adds complaisant female vocals to an ingenious series of mocking guitar moves.

SAWMILL JOE @ HI-DIVE You couldn't make up Joe Cheves unless you thought you were being clever and writing some film in collaboration with the Coen brothers about a folksinger from the first half of the twentieth century. Cheves, who fronts Sawmill Joe (due at the hi-dive on Saturday, June 30), looks like he stepped out of another era and sounds like it, too. Instead of merely singing about working hard in soul-crushing conditions, Cheves actually knows what it's like. Far from a quaint affectation, this guy's husky voice was earned.

WHITEY MORGAN & THE 78S @ LITTLE BEAR If Waylon Jennings didn't exist, then Whitey Morgan wouldn't either. The same could be said for Johnny Paycheck and Johnny Cash, not to mention Buicks, twin fiddles and class struggle. The mold should have been broken with the passing of honky-tonk's golden age, but, somehow, against all the corn pone that still fuels much of the revivalist scene, Morgan is absolutely in that mold. With a rich baritone that stands up to Dale Watson and a hard-as-forged-steel band that stands up to pure shuffles and trucker stomps, Morgan is a heavyweight, hard-country hitter.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows. Page down for rundown of tomorrow night's best bets.


HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS @ HI-DIVE The only ones likely to file Hawthorne Heights under "must-hear" are those stressing over their SAT scores and potential prom dates. Even so, the Dayton, Ohio-based act is turning heads in the corporate world. The group's debut release, The Silence in Black and White, not only outsold the debuts of both Thursday and Taking Back Sunday when it arrived in stores last summer, it became the label's fastest-selling debut to date. But with little radio support and virtually no mainstream press, how did Hawthorne manage to ascend to such Heights? Credit 2005's answer to the underground zine and mix tape: MySpace and purevolume.com. Both sites helped spread the band's screamo-punk gospel -- decent if unmemorable variations on post-hardcore angstfests -- among the earnest, quarter-life-crisis-having set. Talk about youth being wasted on the young.

JAMES & THE DEVIL @ QUIXOTE'S TRUE BLUE "Looking Down the Barrel," the opening track on James & the Devil's Altitude Sickness, leads with a Celtic feel and a tinge of bluegrass, with the fiddle pulling the melody along. James Campbell's vocals seem informed by hip-hop in both his delivery and the flow of the lyrics, but the music never really crosses over into rap-rock territory. "Schmuck" and "Huckleberry" blend in bits of blues and funk with a more rustic style of songwriting, while "Told You So" is the most unusual track, with its intricate and perfectly executed starts and stops, as if these guys had decided to push the envelope a little. Bottom line: This is good-time, upbeat, groovy music that might appeal to you if you were ever into Liquid Jesus's warped funk or appreciated the eclectic psychedelia of Widespread Panic.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows.

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