Portland area live music happenings
by: ©2007 AARON FARRINGTON, The fellas in Yonder String Mountain Band keep the bluegrass coming with a performance Sunday night at the Crystal Ballroom.


The Head Cat

'Featuring Lemmy from Motörhead' might be the only recommendation you need - although the Head Cat's gravelly, gutsy version of rockabilly (which also features the Stray Cats' Slim Jim Phantom and Danny B. Harvey from the Rockats) more than stands on its own merits.

Still, standing in the presence of a living, breathing, rocking legend like Lemmy is something you don't get to experience every day.

If you miss the show, you can always pick up the album 'Fool's Paradise,' which came out last year - but you really should see the band live.

9 p.m. FRIDAY, April 13, Dante's, 1 S.W. Third Ave., 503-226-6630, $25


Railroad Earth

There's been a huge resurgence in the popularity of bluegrass music, particularly in this neck of the woods. Railroad Earth is one of the few bands to take one of America's oldest traditional musical forms and make it sound utterly fresh, using the art form more as a base than a pattern.

With six outstanding musicians in the ranks, there's plenty of interplay and interesting ideas. In a genre where conformity is the norm, it's downright refreshing to hear a truly unique blend of folk, Celtic and rock influences thrown into the mix.

It's no wonder the band has been invited to perform at this summer's Bonnaroo Music Festival - and it will be no surprise when they emerge as one of the highlights.

9 p.m. FRIDAY, April 13, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St., 503-225-0047, $18, all ages


Silversun Pickups

If your alt-rock tastes run to the Smashing Pumpkins circa '91, you should most definitely check out the Silversun Pickups.

While the Pumpkins exhibited a little more bombast, both bands share a hazy, dynamic sensibility that marries arching arena rock with a beautifully lo-fi, indie approach.

Plus, you can't fault the Silversun Pickups' work ethic. This is a band that is seemingly always on tour, last appearing in Portland supporting Snow Patrol. It definitely is a band to keep your eyes (and ears) on.

9 p.m. SATURDAY, April 14, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St., 503-225-0047, $9.47 (sold out), all ages

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

'Pop music' means different things to different people.

If you like your pop smart and urgent, with elements of Elvis Costello and Ben Folds featuring prominently in the mix, then you should check out Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - if you don't know them already.

It's the rare artist who can balance heady melodies and lyrics with a genuinely affecting emotional pull. This is one of them.

If you can't make the show, make sure you pick up their excellent new album, 'Living With the Living.'

9 p.m. MONDAY, April 16, Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 S.E. 39th Ave., 503-233-7100, $14, all ages


Yonder Mountain String Band

In less than a decade, the Yonder Mountain String Band has become one of the biggest names in the bluegrass resurgence.

Their groovy and slightly ramshackle take on the genre has made them a hit with the jam crowd as well as traditionalists; in fact, they've played the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and their broad appeal also has landed them two Bonnaroo Festival appearances as well as a spot on the Austin City Limits Festival.

The band will be headlining the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheater over Labor Day weekend, so the Crystal Ballroom is a cozy venue by comparison.

8:30 p.m. SUNDAY, April 15, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St., 503-225-0047, $25, all ages

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