A-one and a-two and a-three
From Buddy Holly and the Crickets to Cream, Rush to Los Lonely Boys, trios have always been one of the best delivery vehicles for rock 'n' roll, usually featuring stellar players, sometimes together for years, other times only a few months, tightly focusing on a single vision, creating powerful points of light in the pop universe. The John Butler Trio continues this tradition, delivering roots, rock, funk and jam music in a hold-on-loosely-yet-don't-let-go danceable manner. Highly listenable, they'll be sharing the stage with - you guessed it - a trio, namely the popular-with-the-bong-hitters roots-reggae, ska-punksters State Radio.
John Butler Trio, State Radio, 8 p.m. Thursday, May 27, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St. $25. All ages. Info: 503-225-0047, mcmenamins.com.
From across the Columbia River comes Vancouver's Shoebox Letters featuring singer/ songwriter/guitarist Dennis Winslow, singer/songwriter/guitarist Greg Paul, singer/songwriter Stephanie Pranzetti, bassist Dave Stricker and drummer/percussionist Miguel Lyons-Cabazos. And dang, if these country pop rockers don't blend their voices in a sweet sounding, yet meat-flavored soup of sound. Their newest album, 'Damaged Goods,' was released in January and will please any and all Americana fans. The band shares the stage with Greg Georgeson who recently released his second solo CD 'Imaginary Theme Songs,' which features retro rock instrumentals and Emily Eveleen, a singer-songwriter who draws on rock, blues, flamenco and jazz.
Shoebox Letters, Greg Georgeson, Emily Eveleen, 9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 29, Duff's Garage, 1635 S.E. Seventh Ave. $5. Info: 503-234-BEER, duffsgarage.com.
Long live rawk
Portland's Play/Start likes the rock. Featuring Candise Branum on bass, Leslie Mowrer on guitar, Lorenzo Triburgo on drums and Sarah Van Dyck on vocals, the group digs fuzzy tones, aggressive yet thoughtful lyrics and generally simple riffs with sharp corners. Gun Shot Whiskey - Ben Smash on drums, Kelly Graves on bass, Price Johnson on vocals, Shawn Baravetto on guitar - also likes the rock, combining it with metal and garage. Both bands seem to be edging toward an almost operatic approach vocally, Gun Shot Whiskey more than Play/Start, but both groups are definitely raw at heart.
Play/Start, Gun Shot Whiskey, 9 p.m. Saturday, May 29, Tiger Bar, 317 N.W. Broadway St. Info: 503-467-4111, tigerbarpdx.com.
Chanteuse you can use
If you like that ABC show 'Castle' and watched the season finale May 17, you may have caught a pretty waltzing ballad titled 'Into the Blue' playing at the end. The young woman's voice on that song belongs to Bend-bred Sara Jackson-Holman, who is celebrating the release of her debut album, 'When You Dream' on Portland label Expunged. Jackson-Holman has a rich tone that could have some staying power in the pop world, and the classically trained pianist should be popular with the Feist/Norah Jones crowd. Members of Blind Pilot and Horsefeathers, in addition to others, will back her up. She's sharing the spotlight with On The Stairs, fronted by intelligent soft-rock balladeer Nate Clark (sort of a Leonard Cohen type singer but with a lot less gray hair) and minimalist folk-rockers Team Evil.
On The Stairs, Sara Jackson-Holman, Team Evil, 9 p.m. Thursday, June 3, The Woods, 6637 Milwaukie Ave. $7. Info: 503-890-0408, thewoodsportland.com.