Few performers define the word 'indie' better than Ani DiFranco, Buffalo-born goddess of Righteous Babe records and feminist folk rocker. The fearless guitarist and singer has created an alternative nation of fans through touring, talking, jamming and advocating, all without playing the corporate music game. She's a much more tuneful songwriter than she was when she started almost two decades ago but still has enough left-of-center approach to plucking the strings and arranging to keep the hipsters happy. She's touring in support of her latest album 'Red Letter Day,' which is melodic enough for even a patriarchal chauvinist to love, as long as he doesn't listen too closely to the words.
Ani DiFranco, Anais Mitchell, 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, at the Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St. $32.50 advance, $35 day of show. All ages. 503-225-0047.
Waves of regret, tides of joy
At its best, country music should make you want to leave the bar and go home to tell your wife and kids you promise to stop drinking and be a better man. Then make you forget that promise as you order another whiskey. Then cry as you feel bad and call her on the pay phone. Then start a fight with the guy who also wants to use the phone. Then smother him in man hugs. Flash Flood and The Dikes will make you want to do these things. God bless 'em for performing Friday happy hours at Slabtown.
Flash Flood and The Dikes, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, and ever after, at Slabtown, 1033 N.W. 16th Ave. Free, 21 and older. 503-223-0099.
Chords on a cloud
If you ever laid on your back on a hillside, looking skyward and feeling forgetful, you're half the way to getting Noah and the Whale's serene, melodic electro-acoustic sound, which lies about midway between earth and heaven, with heaven drawing the music upward rather than gravity pulling it down. The British folk band's latest offering 'First Days of Spring' is allegedly about a breakup, but the music is so tuneful and hypnotic it's hard to believe any gal in her right mind would give the guy up.
Noah and the Whale, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside St. $12. 503-231-9663.
Oct. 25-26 and Nov. 1
Now this is class, baby
Tupai, the performance space for Andina Restaurant in Northwest Portland, is hosting a fantastic series of musical performances this month and next. On Sunday, Oct. 25, guitarist Alfredo Muro performs, and this guy is no slouch, having been selected to represent Peru in the 16th annual International Guitar Festival in his hometown of Lima. Then on Monday, Oct. 26, noted Americana performer Kevin Montgomery, who's hitting 50 states in 50 days, will do his Oregon show there, sharing the stage with award-winning songwriter Kaci Bolls. Montgomery just released his third album '2:30am,' which features backing vocals from Trisha Yearwood as well as Lee Ann Womack. Then on Sunday, Nov. 1, Pepe Raphael, who's danced with the National Ballet of Spain, Ballet Hispanico in New York City, Oregon Ballet Theater and has lent a Latin flavor to Pink Martini, will debut a new sound with his group, Los Duendes featuring percussionist Jesse Brooke, bassist Justin Durrie, classical guitarist David Franzen, and classical/Flamenco guitarist Danny Romero.
Alfredo Muro on Sunday, Oct. 25; Kevin Montgomery and Kaci Bolls on Monday, Oct. 26; and Pepe Raphael's Duende on Sunday, Nov. 1, at Andina, 1314 N.W. Glisan St. All shows 6 p.m. Tickets for Muro and Los Duendes range from $55 to $65 and include Peruvian three-course meal. Montgomery's show is $20, and benefits Ethos Music Center. Call 503-228-9535 for reservations. For more information, visit www.andinarestaurant.com.
Blow your face out
Harmonica player James Harman loves to serve up them fat, greasy tin sandwich sounds. The legendary Alabama boy who now calls southern California home also possesses a rich baritone voice that complements his hurricane force blowing on the harp. If you like your harmonica players to reach down in your throat, rip your heart out, open it up and make it bleed the blues, this is your man. He'll be at Duff's Garage Monday, Oct. 26, sharing the stage with Nathan James, one of the most versatile blues guitarists to ever jam in the key of E and then some.
James Harman, Nathan James, 10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, at Duff's Garage, 1635 S.E. Seventh Ave. $10. 503-234-2337.
Oct. 30 and Nov. 10
Rob Wessels, leader of the Portland band 'lovingly called Li'l Bastard,' mixes folk, rock and alt-pop sounds, which echo Fastball, Steve Earle and John Mellencamp. The group just released its debut CD 'In the Fall,' which you can check out a bit at www.myspace.com/robwessels. This is tuneful rootsy blue-collar music you can hear Friday, Oct. 30 at Capitol Coffee House and Bistro or Nov. 10 at Steven Vincent Jewelers.
Li'l Bastard, 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, at Capitol Coffee House and Bistro, 6446 S.W. Capitol Highway, 503-297-1455; and at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, at Steven Vincent Jewelers, 1307 S.W. First Ave., 503-274-7682. Free admission to both shows.