So much stuff, so little space. The shows of the week, hands down, are Wilco at the Library in Oxford Wednesday, September 25th, and guitar-sculptors And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead at Young Avenue Deli Tuesday, September 24th. But Wilco -- whose Yankee Hotel Foxtrot seems to be battling Bruce Springsteen's The Rising for frontrunner status to top the year-end critics' polls -- is so likely to sell out their show before anyone lays eyes on this, it doesn't seem worth much mention. Here's hoping they add a Memphis date later this fall. And Austin's Trail Of Dead -- major-label-supported alt-rockers who deserve the hype that Australia's utterly conventional Vines have been getting -- get their due elsewhere in these pages (see Music Feature, page 37).
So what's next? How about Todd Snider? Onetime local fixture Snider is a strong songsmith who has created a solid niche for himself down the music highway in Nashville. While many loyal locals would undoubtedly beg to differ, I'd say Snider's neither an unusually gifted songwriter nor much of a singer, but he's crafty enough in both areas to get his music across. And his latest, New Connection, flashes a sharp sense of humor, gently poking fun at both himself ("I got piles and piles and piiiles of Tom Petty," the sound- and lookalike sings on "Vinyl Records") and his fans. ("Beer Run"'s portrait of two "frat guys from Abilene" mingling with hippies and scoring beer at a Robert Earl Keen show is priceless.) Snider will have a "CD-release party" (the album came out months ago) at the Lounge Saturday, September 21st.
Or for a roots-music troubadour of a different generation, it's hard to go wrong catching a gig by first-generation rockabilly hero Sleepy LaBeef, a veritable human jukebox of rockabilly, country, and early rock-and-roll whose live sets are always a good time. LaBeef will be at Blues City Café Saturday, September 21st.
As for locals, Midtown fixture Murphy's will celebrate its 25th anniversary Saturday, September 21st, with a megabill of reliably enjoyable venue regulars: The Gabe & Amy Show, Big Betsy, The Joint Chiefs, Delta Grass, The Gamble Brothers Band, and the it-ain't-a-party-without-them Subteens. Also worth a look are youngish locals The Coach & Four, whose recent five-song demo may be some of the prettiest guitar-pop I've heard all year. Don't know if these guys are into the Feelies or the Go-Betweens, but their bright, shimmering guitar sound brings those bands to mind. The Coach & Four will be joined by heavier locals 3 Pipe Problem and out-of-towners The Duration at the Hi-Tone Café Friday, September 20th.
-- Chris Herrington