Willie Nelson has been such a singular figure for so long, it's easy to gloss over the fact that he comes from a songwriting tradition that goes back almost a hundred years. Churning out compositions for more established singers in the 1950s allowed Nelson to see the business from the inside, as he quietly honed his own style of love songs and stories about redheaded drifters. Early successes like "Four Walls" overshadow lesser-appreciated songs like "Three Days," where Nelson works up a shuffle he put to better use during his mid-'70s pinnacle. Hearing Nelson lament "Yesterday, today, and tomorrow" almost sounds like a party instead of a bummer. With sporadic detours through the Great American Songbook, Jamaican music, and of course country, Nelson's live shows can be real wild cards. Either way, this week's concert at the Akron Civic Theatre is a perfect showcase for his amalgamated Americana. — Dave Cantor
7.30 p.m. Friday, November 4. Akron Civic Theatre. Tickets: $50-$60; call 330-253-2488 or go to ticketmaster.com.
The 2008 documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil finally shed a small spotlight on the long-ignored Canadian metal band after 30 years. Of course, it didn't help much in the long run: Last year's Juggernaut of Justice didn't fare all that better than the 14 albums that came before it. The band is still hauling its gear from one small club to another, just to make ends meet. As eye-opening as the movie is, the recently released compilation Monument of Metal: The Very Best of Anvil makes a stronger case for the band's growing legacy. Anvil were called a real-life Spinal Tap after the film was released, and the 19 songs on Monument — including "Metal on Metal," "666," and "Plenty of Power" — confirm it. The riffs, lyrics, and thundering rhythms pummel four-fifths of your senses with their simplicity, but Anvil come surprisingly close to being thrash pioneers at times. This weekend's concert is preceded by a screening of the documentary. — Gallucci
With Breaker and the Rick Ray Band. 7 p.m. Saturday, November 5. West Side Masonic Temple. Tickets: $16, $14 in advance; call 216-776-9999 or visit ticketweb.com.
There have been many Lindsey Buckinghams, none of them being the frequent guest who shows up on the recurring SNL skit "What Up With That." There's the Buckingham who teamed with girlfriend Stevie Nicks on their ill-fated 1973 album and the Buckingham who joined Fleetwood Mac a year later, transforming the British blues band into a pop juggernaut. There's the Buckingham whose breakup with Nicks fueled the creative engine that drove Rumours to platinum numbers, the Buckingham whose perfectionism and substance binges colored the schizophrenically wonderful Tusk, the Buckingham who left Fleetwood Mac, and the one who came back. Then there are the Buckinghams who've released solo albums. All of the Buckinghams have been brilliantly erratic songwriters, stellar harmony singers, and supernaturally gifted guitarists, and they all bring an interesting shade of eccentric genius to whatever they do. — Brian Baker
7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 6. Lorain Palace Theatre. Tickets: $29.50-$75; call 440-245-2323 or visit ticketmaster.com.
Of all the musical cross-pollinations of the past decade, two of the least-likely genres to mix it up are dub and metal. Dub is trippy groove-based music; metal is based on tension, severity, and commanding dynamics. They weren't meant to breed. On their own, the three members of Dub Trio made their name as New York studio musicians backing Common, Fugees, and Macy Gray. As a group they bathe in the surreal glow of King Tubby and translate it to the power-trio format, integrating loping reggae melodies and surly, aggressive slabs of metal riffage, and delivering it all with punk-like brusqueness and mind-warping force. On their recently released fourth album, IV, the group continues to move away from reggae and closer to metal, albeit a somewhat more melodic progressive-metal variant that has more in common with Isis than Bullet for My Valentine. Either way, Dub Trio make a compelling case for their sonic hybrid, hammering it home with authority. — Mark Keresman
With Presque Vu. 8 p.m. Tuesday, November 8. Grog Shop. Tickets: $10, $8 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
Gavin DeGraw's beating in August at the hands of street thugs apparently had nothing to do with the singer-songwriter's music. But it's easy to hear why it might elicit such a response. The 34-year-old hat-loving New Yorker is one of those indistinguishable dudes who made his name a few years back when his songs started popping up in a whole bunch of TV shows, most notably One Tree Hill. Since then he's released a series of albums featuring gently strummed and occasionally catchy love songs that could just as well be by Mat Kearney, Jason Mraz, or Matt Nathanson (how boring would that supergroup be?). DeGraw's fourth album, Sweeter, is more of the same: sweet-talking tunes by a guy who wants to be your friend, ladies — and y'know, maybe it will lead to something more, but he won't push that on you. It's all overly sweet and mostly harmless stuff that's short on personality but long on the kind of sensitive-guy talk that can turn some people into fist-clenching hoodlums. — Michael Gallucci
With David Cook. 7 p.m. Sunday, November 6. Palace Theatre. Tickets: $10-$45; call 216-241-6000 or visit playhousesquare.org.
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