by: Courtesy of Rounder Records Group, The poor old heartsick Knitters, a side project of the punk band X, twang it up Friday at Dante’s.

Portland-area live music shows


The Knitters

Sometimes the chemistry and fun of one-off side projects are so undeniable they need to continue.

Decades before alt-country became a viable genre, several visionary members of X (John Doe, Exene Cervenka and D.J. Bonebreak) joined forces with Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin and Jonny Ray Bartel to form the Knitters and deliver a singular punk-tinged album of country material called 'Poor Little Critter on the Road.'

Twenty years later, they reunited to deliver their second album and seem to be having more fun than ever. Be sure to arrive early for the gorgeous twangst of Jesse Sykes and the Sweethereafter.

9 p.m. FRIDAY, Oct. 6, Dante's, 1 S.W. Third Ave., 503-226-6630, $25, $20 advance


Hotel Cafe Tour

First, Los Angeles gave the world Cafe Largo, which became the breeding ground for critically acclaimed musicians and songwriters like Jon Brion and Grant-Lee Phillips and now operates as a playground for artists like Aimee Mann.

Now there's the Hotel Cafe, whose warm and comfy confines have nurtured a new crop of talented singer-songwriters. Tonight's songwriters-in-the-round format offers a chance to sample a smorgasbord of young up-and-comers, including the Cary Brothers, Brett Dennen, Schuyler Fisk, Joe Purdy and Joshua Radin.

9 p.m. FRIDAY, Oct. 6, Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside St., 503-231-9663, $14


The Stills

If you like a little pep in your anthemic pop, the Stills deliver.

Comparisons to U2, Coldplay and early Radiohead (back when they still wrote achingly good pop songs) are all valid, but the Canadian quintet manages to bypass charges of mimicry by the simple-yet-difficult task of writing some really good, really affecting songs.

While nothing on 'Without Feathers' quite matches the hit potential of 2003's single, 'Still in Love Song,' fans of radio-friendly alternative rock not afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve won't be disappointed.

10 p.m. SATURDAY, Oct. 7, Dante's, 1 S.W. Third Ave., 503-226-6630, $12


Hey Negrita

There's so much music being created that it's refreshing (not to mention miraculous) when something manages to slip through the system without the benefit of a hype machine and utterly captivates from the first listen.

U.K. combo Hey Negrita is that band.

Ghosts of the Pogues, Johnny Cash, Lou Reed, the Stones and the Band waltz amicably together through twangst-ridden songs about love, addiction and life, coming off at times like a grittier version of Mojave 3 while managing to tackle tough topics in a literate and refreshing manner.

9:30 p.m. SATURDAY, Oct. 7, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-288-3895, $17-$20


Fred Eaglesmith

Every now and then all it takes is hearing a voice to know everything it's saying is true.

Fred Eaglesmith has one of those voices. There's something world-worn and universal to the tone of his vocals that lends added depth to his hard-luck country songs - which have helped attract a legion of fans who dub themselves 'Fredheads.'

Old-school country music lovers and newbie Americana converts have embraced this plain-spoken, humorous songwriter with equal fervor, and his live shows are a big part of the attraction.

7 p.m. SUNDAY, Oct. 8, Fez Ballroom, 316 S.W. 11th Ave., 503-221-7262, $22

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