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by: ©2008 MELANIE BROWN, Rock and folk make a seamless blend in the hands of local up-and-comers the Builders and the Butchers.

HIP-HOP

Saul Williams

Calling Saul Williams' music hip-hop isn't entirely accurate - although the acclaimed poet does anchor his songs in socially conscious lyrics, he's striving to push the boundaries of the genre.

On his latest album, 'The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust!' he teams with Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, both as collaborator and for distribution, which is exclusively online.

On this tour, Williams expands his artistic vision and innovation into a full-blown visual and aural theatrical presentation. Treat your eyes and ears while tickling your brain.

9 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave., 503-233-1994, $15, all ages

LOCAL

The Builders and the Butchers

Local indie rockers the Builders and the Butchers have quickly developed an immense buzz with their lively and eclectic blend of indie rock and folk elements.

The band recently toured the West Coast with Helio Sequence and is gearing up to record a full-length album with the Decemberists' Chris Funk.

With high-profile slots on both the Noise Pop and South by Southwest music festivals, it's probably only a matter of time before the band becomes Portland's next breakthrough act.

9 p.m. Thursday, March 20, Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside St., 503-231-9663, $10

SONGWRITER

Steve Earle

Rabble-rouser Steve Earle seemingly has more lives than a cat.

The 'hard-core troubadour' has been invigorating country music for decades, using his keen eye and honest voice to bring attention to a variety of issues while stretching the genre and constantly pushing himself.

On 'Washington Square Serenade,' the roots rocker pays homage to his new home in New York City, not to mention his newfound love with wife Allison Moorer, who once again is touring with him.

Earle's inspirations - whether personal or political - always make for compelling music, which is even more powerful on stage than on record.

8 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave., 503-233-1994, $35, all ages

Send suggestions to barbaramitchell @portlandtribune.com.