In a truly just world, a folk singer like Greg Brown would be accorded the same adulation as a Bruce Springsteen, or, for that matter, a Woody Guthrie. Heck, just about everybody's covered his tunes - Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Ani DiFranco, Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Iris Dement and Joan Baez, among others. He's one of our slightly undervalued national treasures, but Portland - which he has called home before - has unearthed him.
Playing guitar and singing in his deep as a volcano voice since the early 1970s, Brown has carved out a compelling niche in the world of Americana - indeed, you could argue he's one of the guys who made invention of the term necessary. Brown will grace The Aladdin stage Oct. 9 along with Bo Ramsey - one of America's greatest musical hired guns, having helped out Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams and others, and a fine songwriter in his own right. Either of these guys alone would be worth the price of admission, so consider yourself lucky you're getting a two-fer.
8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, Aladdin Theater, 3017 Milwaukie Ave. $28.50 advance / $30 day of show. Minors must be accompanied by parents.
Dance little sister
You can get your fill of new wave, shoegaze, electronica, goth and dance noise when Railer, Starry Saints and Pink Noise hit the stage at Ash Street Saloon.
All three bands draw their influences from David Bowie, Flock of Seagulls, The Cure and other such artsy, romantic performers. And they all would be nice to dream to, with their use of synthesized sounds and shimmering melodies. Where this trio diverges is what they do with those influences. There's a slightly rockin' androgynous demon in Railer, one that then turns more macho and goes marching a little harder through the Saints, then decides to style its hair and stops to check itself in the mirror when Pink Noise plays. Not because it's vain - just making sure it still looks beautiful before it goes back into the club.
9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, Ash Street Saloon, 225 S.W. Ash St. $5 / $3 for the ladies. 503-226-0430.
Erin go braghless
If you were an Irish-American who came of age in the 1980s, two bands likely riveted your attention - U2 and The Pogues. And you really can't understand modern Ireland without giving both a listen.
U2, at first 'Joshua Tree' earnest, then 'Achtung Baby' urbane, represented the new Ireland - postmodern, confident, ecumenical, computer savvy and cosmopolitan. The punk-folk Pogues, on the other hand, mostly made up of emigrants' sons in London, represented the old sod suffering under centuries of British misrule - impoverished weddings, wakes and funerals; Catholic guilt and redemption; drinking, fighting and beautiful, tragic poetry, all penned by Shane McGowan who belongs in the pantheon of pop music's masterful lyricists.
U2 was pretty much creating a new form of world rock. But The Pogues mined the past, impishly corrupting traditional Irish music with raging rock and other influences, gleefully celebrating all that was screwy with life in Ireland, England, New York City and wherever else the Irish trod. It'll be all right and all wrong when The Pogues hit Portland Sunday at the Roseland.
The Pogues with the Swingin' Utters, Roseland Theatre, 8 N.W. Sixth Ave., 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11. 503-219-9929.
Abandon all hope,ye with tickets
Leading up to Halloween, those crazy masked death metalheads in Slipknot - who released their first album 'Mate, Feed, Kill, Repeat' on Oct. 31, 1996 - will help you ring in the season, and possibly destroy it as well.
8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13, Memorial Coliseum, www.rosequarter.com, $45.
At one time, some people, particularly those who didn't like being morally offended, found Butthole Surfers, spawned in Austin, a good argument for why it would have been better had the Mexicans won the Texas War of Independence.
For others, however, particularly those who liked their pre-apocalyptic multimedia banquet served up with some of the rawest, best-played punk on the planet and some of the sickest jokes in history, Gibby Haynes and company were just what the doctor ordered. Really, how could you hate a guy who told you he got high smoking Elvis Presley's toenails?
We all must mature, however, and the Surfers sorta, kinda did - embracing everything from hip-hop to shoegazer rock along the way with Haynes penning some downright preacherish-type songs that rivaled, heck, even exceeded some of Johnny Cash's best moments. Then again, maybe saving souls has been part of the Surfers' demented plan all along. Though for whom they're saving them is still open for debate.
8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside Road. $23 advance/$25 day of show. All ages. 503-225-0047.
Off the leash
Hailing from Davis, Calif., Shayna and The Bulldog performs infectious indie pop rock, all pretty melodies and fine instrumentation, delivered with just enough edge to keep you guessing. Definitely music worth munching your pizza to.
6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, Mississippi Pizza Pub 3552 North Mississippi Ave. 503-288-3231.