It's funny, the once raging rock mainstream - sort of where Nickelback swims - actually keeps afloat a shrinking number of bands, since so many new bands fear being labeled mainstream. Portland crunchy pop rockers Merrill, however, seem determined to swim to rock's center, poseurs and hipsters be damned. And the band, fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarist Chris Merrill may actually have a good shot at mainstream success because it seems more lyrically sensitive than Nickelback, and Merrill's a more powerful singer than 90 percent of the cats out there. You can judge for yourself if these boys deserve to take over the world when they celebrate the release of their new CD 'A Beautiful Disaster.'
Merrill with Goodbye Harrison, 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, Ponderosa Lounge, 10350 N. Vancouver Way. $5. 503-345-0300.
About one second into A Fifth of Funk's song 'Good Man' and you've been transported into a world where Stevie Ray Vaughn meets Blues Traveler via James Brown. This explosive drums-bass-guitar trio plays unapologetic funky blues-rock that would go down well with that beer you're drinking.
A Fifth of Funk, 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, Roots Organic Brewing, 1520 S.E. Seventh Ave. Free. 503-235-7668.
Oct. 30, Nov. 5
Portland's The Quick and Easy Boys have been out on the road but are returning home Oct. 30 to play the Laurelthirst as well as open for swamp rock kings Southern Culture on the Skids Nov. 5 at Doug Fir. The partying Boys describe themselves as 'the Minutemen, Willie Nelson and Funkadelic rolled into one,' but you should add Little Feat, War, the Meters and Talking Heads as well. Oh heck, they're actually pretty original, even if they're rooted in so many danceable styles you've already heard.
The Quick and Easy Boys, 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, Laurelthirst, 2958 N.E. Glisan St. Free. 503-232-1504; with Southern Culture on the Skids 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, Doug Fir, 830 E. Burnside St. $15. 503-231-9663.
Crazy man, crazy
Jerry Garcia once called Steve Kimock his favorite unknown guitarist. However, Kimock is far from unknown in these parts, and is well known to such groups as Little Feat, The Allman Brothers and Phish, not to mention performers from Joe Satriani to Screamin' Jay Hawkins, all of whom have tapped his talent. Patchouli scents and good vibes will most certainly fill Aladdin Theater on Halloween when his band, Crazy Engine, takes the stage.
Steve Kimock Crazy Engine, 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukee Ave. $29.50 advance, $32 day of show. 21 and over. 503-234-9694.
For one hour at Music Millennium, you can enjoy the funky world of Portland keyboardist Jacob Merlin, who's promoting his new CD 'Alchemy of Soul.' Fans of Van Morrison, Steely Dan, Dr. John and Robert Cray will dig it.
Jacob Merlin, 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, Music Millennium, 3158 E. Burnside St. Free. All ages. 503-231-8926.
The word 'footstomping' was invented for folk soul rocker Langhorne Slim.
If you've ever caught him live, you know this young man delivers, his music embracing pop, country, gospel, rock and other threads in the Americana tapestry.
Langhorne Slim with Dawes, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside. $13 advance, $15 day of show. All ages. 503-225-0047.
Hares on end
Brooklyn's White Rabbits play melodic, tightly arranged dark pop dance rock that features stripped down percussion, tenor vocals and sharp guitar lines.
The sextet echoes everyone from World Party to Franz Ferdinand to Spoon and should please anyone who likes intelligible lyrics as well as songs that evoke past folkies and futuristic dance floors.
White Rabbits with Local Natives and Glass Ghost, 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, Wonder Ballroom, 128 N.E. Russell St. $13 advance, $15 day of show. All ages. 503-284-8686.