Merle Jagger, a twangy bluegrass-country-rock-jazz trio out of the Los Angeles area features longtime session guitarist Mark Christian, bassist Patrick Flores and drummer Brandon Goldstein. Everyone from Roy Clark to Jimi Hendrix has influenced Christian, and the trio of progressive hillbillies provides the perfect soundtrack for your next long haul across the country. Honky tonkers Lisa and Her Kin share the stage.
Merle Jagger, Lisa and Her Kin, 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, Duff's Garage, 1635 S.E. Seventh Ave. Info: 503-234-BEER, www.duffsgarage.com.
The Rainy States pair the thoughtful vocals of front woman Betsy Johnson and guitarist Kevin Morgan, backed by Benjamin Johnson on bass and Kevin van Geem on the skins. The melodic Portland indie rockers combine jangle rock, folk music, soul, classical sounds and proto-punk on their latest 10-song CD 'The Push and The Plan.' Betsy Johnson has the voice of a world-weary lounge singer, which sounds fresh and different against the band's nicely crafted arrangements.
The Rainy States, and and and, Social Studies, D.J. Scott Oseth, 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, Backspace, 115 N.W. Fifth Ave. $5 All ages. Info: 503-248-2900, www.backspace.bz.
What do you get when you combine endless experimentation in the studio, a refined taste for classical music as well as rap, and a keen melodic sensitivity? Topanga, Calif.'s Emily Wells, who's all that and more, plying what the kids these days call 'folktronica.' She's joined by indie Texas folkie Sarah Jaffe, a guitarist who's gifted with one of those just-gotta-stop-to-listen-to-her voices.
Emily Wells, Sarah Jaffe, 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, Doug Fir, 830 E. Burnside St. $10. Info: 503-231-WOOD, www.dougfirlounge.com.
Mohawk meets metal
Strung Out actually isn't - this tight, harmonically solid band always sounds like it's been pumping iron and cleansing its sonic innards of all putrid aural matter. One of the L.A. group's compositional fists hits you with metal, the other punk, yet amazingly the band somehow, at times, dare we say it, sounds beautiful? Maybe it's because for 20 years, they haven't cared if they sounded like Metallica one moment or your local neighborhood skate punks the next - they just keep playing and dare you to catch up with them. Which is why bands from Blink 182 to Rise Against bow down and worship them.
Strung Out, Rufio, We Are the Union, Larry and His Flask, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, Berbatis Pan, 231 S.W. Ankeny St. $16. All ages. Info: 503-248-4579, www.berbati.com.
Rhymin' for a reason
L.A.'s 2Mex (aka SunGodSuns) has been called 'the most prolific underground rapper' with 35 CD releases and countless guest appearances. Meanwhile, Portland via Chicago's Mic Crenshaw is one of the Rose City's best known hip hop acts, and has shared stages with the Fugees, Ice Cube, Outkast, Wu-Tang Clan and many others. An anti-racism activist, Crenshaw is co-founder of Global Fam, a nonprofit that has helped set up a computer center for disadvantaged youth in Burundi, Central Africa. Funky jazzy flavored rapper Serge Severe, Portland trio Rose Bent featuring Rose City MissChief, J-Kronic, and Lady Trinity, and Spanish-English rapper M4 round out this bill, proceeds of which benefit the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee, which works for human rights and social justice throughout the Americas.
2Mex, Mic Crenshaw, Serge Severe, Rose Bent, M4, Thursday, Aug. 26, Rotture, 315 S.E. Third Ave. $8. 21 and over. Info: 503-234-5683, www.rotture.com.