With all the recent hoopla surrounding blues-rock singer-songwriter Joe Bonamassa, you may be surprised to hear that the 34-year-old, New York-born guitarslinger had to go to Europe to make it big before his career exploded here. His 2009 CD/DVD Live From the Royal Albert Hall is a perfect intro, showing him at his level best, jamming alongside Eric Clapton. Bonamassa is also part of the Black Country Communion supergroup with Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater), and Jason Bonham. Put those records on and it's like 1976 again. Bonamassa's latest album, Dust Bowl, branches out a bit and easily ranks as his best solo outing. He sees it as "something of a spirit thing and an opportunity to really paint more of a picture, tell more of a story, and focus less on songs about heartbreak in that John Hiatt-type of storytelling." Bonamassa can tell stories, for sure — and make his Les Paul weep, sing, and scream like very few others. — Peter Chakerian
8 p.m. Friday, October 28. State Theatre. Tickets: $49-$79; call 216-241-6000 or visit playhousesquare.org.
The Clarks can relate to Bob Seger, a journeyman rock & roller who shuns the limelight. That's not to say the Pittsburgh quartet hasn't picked up a ton of fans over its 25 years. Despite being mostly known as a regional jam band, the Clarks have sold a hefty amount of records and performed tons of shows across the country, leading the way with guitar-driven and hook-packed songs like the popular "Penny on the Floor" and "Snowman." Their early tunes reflect their '80s roots, but the band's most recent album, 2009's Restless Days, features more of a poppy alt-rock swing. With the consistent presence of layered vocals and upbeat tempos, some of the new songs can seem like carbon copies of each other. But the Clarks have rebounded before. They have more than a dozen albums under their belts, so it's always a guessing game what they'll play in concert. Their set lists are wild grab bags, which makes for some great shows. — Courtney Kerrigan
With Cobalt & the Hired Guns. 8 p.m. Friday, October 28. Grog Shop. Tickets: $19, $17 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
No matter how authentically the Dap-Kings recreate old-school R&B, it wouldn't be nearly as potent without its big-voiced frontwoman leading the charge. Born in Augusta, Georgia (just like her musical hero, James Brown), Sharon Jones was working as a corrections officer at Rikers Island when one of her recordings caught the ear of a record exec looking to cater classic soul sounds. Over four increasingly funky albums, Jones and the Dap-Kings have not only keenly recreated the music's classic style; they've captured the fiery spirit of the original Godfather of Soul. Jones' onstage energy is something to behold, suggesting a gospel revival in its room-shaking vitality. Last year's I Learned the Hard Way augments the group's hot, sweaty soul with girl-group pop, Otis Redding-style R&B, and even a groovy instrumental. They're even better live, turning the funk up to sweltering levels unseen since Funkadelic's heyday.— Chris Parker
8:30 p.m. Saturday, October 29. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $30; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Gym Class Heroes
Hit records, arrests, a break-up with pop's reigning starlet, suspenseful hiatuses, and a massive duet with Adam Levine — Gym Class Heroes have come a long way from their modest inception in small-town New York more than a dozen years ago. When Pete Wentz signed the band to his record label in 2003, the Fall Out Boy bassist immediately knew they were a group to keep an eye on. Their fifth album, The Papercut Chronicles II, comes out next month. Frontman (and Katy Perry's ex) Travie McCoy wanted to bring the band back to its roots of organic, dark, and heavier sounds. But judging by the album's first single, "Stereo Hearts" (featuring Maroon 5's singer on the hook, it's already a hit), it could turn out to be a poppier record than he intended — albeit with some rougher elements sprinkled in. The band is now touring the country, drumming up excitement for the new album with a stop at House of Blues this week. — Logan Boggs
With the Dirty Heads and Wallpaper.
7:30 p.m. Monday, October 31. House of Blues. Tickets: $28, $25 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
New Found Glory
You can't blame New Found Glory for wanting to headline the Pop Punk's Not Dead Tour. After all, the subgenre has been pretty good to them over the past dozen or so years. Along with bratty pioneers like Blink-182, they helped expose a suburban angst that could only be calmed with three-chord guitar riffs, relentlessly galloping rhythms, and open-hearted lyrics that no teenage boy would ever share with his friends. From the sound of things on its new album, Radiosurgery, the Florida quintet hasn't aged at all since its 2002 breakthrough. But the truth is, frontman Jordan Pundik and his bandmates are in their early 30s, which can make all this gut-spilling seem a bit on the drama-queen side. That's not to say there isn't some chewy ear candy to be found on Radiosurgery, but most guys their age are worrying about paying mortgages and changing diapers, not girls who won't talk to them. Maybe the whole Pop Punk's Not Dead thing isn't so much a firm declaration as it is wishful thinking. — Michael Gallucci
7 p.m. Tuesday, November 1. House of Blues. Tickets: $23, $20 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
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