The Bottle Rockets And Hawthorne Heights Lead This Week's Shows 

Good Golly, Miss Holly

Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs at the Beachland Tavern, Friday, November 14

Holly Golightly has spent the better part of the past two decades proudly bearing the garage-rock banner, first with all-girl Billy Childish offshoot Thee Headcoatees in the early '90s and then in her subsequent solo career (including 2003's Truly She Is None Other, assisted by Cincinnati's own Greenhornes). On last year's You Can't Buy a Gun When You're Crying, Golightly teamed up with her touring bassist Dave Drake (under his nom de plume Lawyer Dave) to create an album of Spartan country folk that sounded like the gravel crossroads where Tom Waits built a studio and Johnny Cash built a church.

On Dirt Don't Hurt, their sophomore album as Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs, Golightly and Drake continue down the same atmospherically rustic path they established on Gun. The key to both albums' success is the fact that Golightly and Drake effortlessly tap into country/folk classicism as writers and performers, resulting in a set of songs that seem more like timeless covers (they do throw in a couple) than contemporary originals. From double-entendre bluesy folk ("Bottom Below") to weepy country ("Up Off the Floor") and a murderous Johnny-and-June-style duet ("My 45"), Golightly and Drake don't merely mimic their influential predecessors; they inhabit the genres they translate, lending a distinct air of authenticity to the album. Nashville rarely turns out real country music anymore, so it's up to outside artists like Brit Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs to remind us of the old guard's ageless homespun majesty. She performs two shows, at 7:30 p.m., as part of a benefit for North Shores Community Gardens project, and at 9:30 p.m. Both are at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $20 and $10 respectively. - Brian Baker

The Sisters of Mercy

Andrew Eldritch's musical vehicle the Sisters of Mercy is a case study in extreme contrasts. SoM's three albums became staples for the goth scene in the mid-'80s, yet Eldritch refused to identify himself as a goth. His baritone vocals drew the attention of goth kids who applied SoM's stylings to their own penchant for doom, gloom and self-pity. Yet, when you study Eldritch's lyrics and the few interviews he's given (Eldritch is notoriously hostile to the press), you encounter a sense of defiant perseverance in the face of a world limping to its own demise. Often lumped in with gothic godfathers Bauhaus, Eldritch took a more direct, bombastic approach when crafting his soundtrack to the apocalypse, as heard in the mechanical tempo of "Lucretia My Reflection," from 1986's Floodland. That bolstered a sense of urgency, leaning more toward industrial rock and heavy metal than Peter Murphy and company's atmospheric spook show. It's a sound that became a forerunner to AFI and Type O Negative, among others. SoM released three albums and one greatest-hits compilation. Vision Thing, their last studio album, was released in 1992, and the band last played Cleveland in 1991. But one recent event has brought SoM out of VH1 Classic and into the ears of a new generation of listeners: the inclusion of "Dominion/Mother Russia" on the mega-hit videogame Grand Theft Auto IV. (You may have overheard comments from youngsters to the effect of, "Hey, I heard this song while I was being chased by the cops and beating up hookers in Liberty City.") As for the live performance, two elements are certain: Eldritch and Doktor Avalanche. Goth kids, metalheads and videogame hooker-beaters are going to have to find out the rest for themselves. Hypernova opens at 8 p.m. at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583). Tickets: $20-$23. - Norm Narvaja

Martin Sexton

Martin Sexton's got the kind of blue-eyed soul, blues and R&B chops that get him invited to tour with the likes of John Mayer, who's called him "the best live performer I've ever seen." The Syracuse-born musician started out his career as a busker on Boston's Harvard Square and has garnered a loyal fan base over the years. That he can deliver a riveting performance without a band speaks volumes about his stage presence. His new live album, Solo, is testimony to this. It includes covers of songs as diverse as Prince's "Purple Rain," Ray Charles' "Hard Times" and the Beatles' "With a Little Help F rom My Friends." He's coming to the Kent Stage (175 E. Main St., 330.677.5005) as part of the 42nd annual Kent State Folk Festival. Warming up for Sexton is Ryan Montbleau, a young singer-songwriter in possession of a jazzy blues sensibility. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets: $25. - Peggy Latkovich

Gene Bertoncini

Though this 71-year-old guitarist began playing his instrument at a very early age, he didn't become a professional musician until he graduated from Notre Dame University in the late '50s with an architecture degree. Shortly after receiving his diploma, he took an interest in jazz and moved to Chicago, where he began performing as a sideman with vocalist Carmen McRae. Upon returning to his native New York City (where he still resides), he played with legendary names like Wayne Shorter, Tony Bennett and saxophonist Paul Desmond (best known for his work with Dave Brubeck), while also working as a member of The Tonight Show band during Johnny Carson's reign. Often regarded as the Andres Segovia of jazz, Bertoncini began studying classical music and incorporating elements of that genre into an improvisational format. For 18 years, he played twice a week at a small New York restaurant called Le Madeleine, using the space to practice his skills on tunes by Miles Davis, bossa nova boss Antonio Carlos Jobim and others (the venue unfortunately closed last spring after 28 years and is currently looking for a new location). He's comfortable performing by himself, with orchestras or even a simple trio. Brothers Doug (acoustic bass) and Dane Richeson (drums), both experienced musicians in their own right, will join him. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Nightttown (12387 Cedar Rd., 216.795.0531). Tickets: $15. - Ernest Barteldes

Ace Enders

In 2006, the Early November had just started to peak. After its first two albums - For All of This and The Room's Too Cold - earned the band respect and a spot on the indie-rock scene, the group released The Mother, The Mechanic, and The Path, an innovative and ambitious three-disc concept album. A year later, the Early November broke up, leaving a void in music collections. The band's singer, Ace Enders, just released the first record from his solo project, dubbed Ace Enders and a Million Different People. Their debut album, The Secret Wars, doesn't pick up where the Early November left off. Instead, it's filled with acoustic guitars, poignant lyrics and sweeping vocals. The Secret Wars is a map of Enders' musical tastes from the ardent rock opener "Body Like Mind" to the eternally optimistic piano number "Bring Back Love." The Early November's last album was just a glimpse at the kind of music Enders could make. With The Secret Wars, he firmly establishes himself as a musician who refuses to settle into one genre. PlayRadioPlay! and Hellogoodbye round out the show, which starts at 5 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $15. - Brittany Moseley

Citizen Cope

The road that leads from DJ-ing for Washington, D.C. acoustic hip-hop pioneers Basehead to scoring the soundtrack to a Pontiac commercial and becoming a featured artist on the hit HBO show Entourage is assuredly a long one, but Clarence Greenwood (a.k.a. Citizen Cope) has navigated it quite well. After three increasingly excellent albums featuring hip-hop and reggae grooves alongside John Lennon-like hippie politics, there's been a definite and intensely well-deserved buzz developing around this talented singer-songwriter. Having built his success and an ever-growing fan base the old fashioned way - through word of mouth about so many brilliant live shows during his seemingly ceaseless touring schedule - Citizen Cope seems to have firmly established himself as an artist in the midst of building a very formidable musical career. The show starts at 9 p.m. at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583). Tickets: $22.50 advance, $25 day of show. - Kurt Hernon

The Ice Bears Tour

Sponsored by DeepThinka Records, an underground label founded a decade ago in Cleveland, the Ice Bears Tour portends to introduce us to the hottest underground rappers on the circuit. Clevelanders might recognize Paulie Rhyme. Once a force on the local scene, the guy has since moved to San Francisco but kept at the rap game. On songs such as the soulful "Squared Circle," Rhyme raps righteously about "elevation and motivation," proudly wearing his Native Tongues sensibilities on his sleeve. The bill is rounded out by Prince Po, Edreys, Lou Draws, Jus Mic and Prhymal Rage. Doors open at 9 p.m. at the Phantasy Concert Club (11802 Detroit Ave. 216.228.6300). Tickets: $10. - Jeff Niesel


"When a young artist emerges, critics like him or they don't, but in any case the artist has to mature," says the Kyrgyzstan-born (and Kansas City-raised) Eldar of the responses elicited by his third CD, Reimagination. "Maturity comes from actual response to the music and to the environment that surrounds the artist, and not a third person [the critics], because the music is the personal expression that comes from you and nobody else." The young pianist has certainly been evolving musically; from a teenage prodigy, he has blossomed into a jazz professional who looks at his early classical musical roots as a basis for everything he does. That's clearly evident on the new record, especially when listening to his take on Oscar Peterson's "Place St. Henri" and the complete reinvention of the Beatles' "Blackbird" (one of the CD's bonus tracks) for the keys. Eldar says audiences have been very responsive to the material so far. "So many of the people that come to the shows and the fans who make it possible for an artist to create the music and to create that drive is to a certain extent so crucial to the music," he says. "The energy that is put out by the audience will determine, so many times, what will happen onstage, and that exchange will carry through to them. So the more they give output, the more input the musician gives out, and that means a lot to me." It does to us too. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Rd., 216.795.0531). Tickets: $25. - Barteldes

Easy Action

Negative Approach and Laughing Hyenas' John Brannon has returned, this time with the Detroit band Easy Action. The band's overall sound gives off a classic '70s punk sound. On songs like "Dead of Night" and "Kool Aid," Brannon howls like a werewolf, making this show perfect for a post-Halloween celebration. Wild distortion is a must with Easy Action, and some songs even incorporate trumpets. Easy Action is a dirty old rock 'n' roll band that's been increasingly active on the Midwest circuit, perhaps because of the band's Stooges and Alice Cooper influences. Hatchett Job and the Exploding Lies open at 8 p.m. at Now That's Class (11213 Detroit Ave., 216.221.8576). Tickets: $5. - Erika Schramm

Nanci Griffith

On Nanci Griffith's most recent album, 2006's Ruby's Torch, she comes off a bit like What's New-era Linda Ronstadt. The disc is a collection of torch songs, complete with lush strings and horns. But rather than cull from the big book of standards, she draws from sources as varied as Tom Waits, Jimmy Webb and songs previously recorded by Crystal Gayle, Willie Nelson and Michael Johnson. It's quite an evolution from her early folkabilly days. Griffith has always had an ear and a pen that lean toward the literate, sheathing it all in a homespun wrapping. She's garnered a lot of respect among her peers in her nearly three decades of recording. Her compositions have been covered by Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Kathy Mattea, among others. She'll headline the final concert of this year's Kent State Folk Festival. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Kent Stage (175 E. Main St., 330.677.5005). Tickets: $60 gold circle, $30 reserved. - Latkovich

Bottle Rockets

Who can tell if roots-rock will ever go mainstream and if the American underground will ever produce its own Creedence Clearwater Revival? St. Louis' Bottle Rockets have a darn good shot, lemme tell ya. Bottle Rockets' singer-guitarist Brian Henneman and CCR's John Fogerty have a bit in common - they both write earthy, lean rock 'n' roll songs from the heart about life in these United States without any Melloncamp-y rah-rah mythologizing, full of rockin' crunch and a touch of twang. Without going the retro-route, the Rockets know rock lineage - their 2001 album, Songs of Sahm, is a tribute to the late Texas eclectic icon Doug Sahm (a.k.a. Sir Douglas Quintet, who was and remains roots-rock incarnate). Bottle Rockets embody the lean, mean, no-frills Midwestern approach to rock 'n' roll - as much Grand Funk as the Stooges - but they don't stop there, including inspiration from neo-trad honky-tonker John Anderson (the great Mekons cover one of his tunes!) and pals Uncle Tupelo. These guys from the Show-Me State are celebrating their 15th year kicking out the jams (with a new album due in February). Terry Anderson's Olympic Ass Kickin' Team opens at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $15. - Mark Keresman

Cute Is What We Aim For

On their 2006 debut, The Same Old Blood Rush With a New Touch, these emo kids from Buffalo almost hit their target. They sang cute songs about high-school crushes and the stupid things they say to girls after a few drinks. Singer Shaant Hacikyan's nasally, almost-apologetic whine perfectly fit the band's polite pop-punk. But on their latest album, Rotation, Cute Is What We Aim For turn up the amps and play a harder, more riff-heavy version of their post-teen anguish, while Hacikyan sings lines like "I've become what a mother wouldn't want in a son" with more resignation than regret. Like fellow Fueled by Ramen labelmates Fall Out Boy, Paramore and Panic at the Disco, Cute Is What We Aim For pile on the hooks when in a pinch. And what girl wouldn't fall for the you-can-count-on-me sentiment on "Safe Ride"? But the whirlwind of peppy high-school emotions that blew across The Same Old Blood Rush With a New Touch settles into young-adult complacency on Rotation, and it's not so cute. The band, with Secondhand Serenade and Automatic Loveletter, plays House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave.; 216.523.2583) at 7 p.m. Tickets: $18-$20. - Michael Gallucci

Ben Kenney

When Ben Kenney joined Incubus in 2003, he replaced bassist Alex Katunich, and his hip-hop-influenced bass lines changed the band's sound. While Katunich added a funky twist to Incubus, Kenney's style is groovier and smoother - understandable since he used to play guitar in the Roots. Aside from being the bassist for Incubus, Kenney also has a solo career. He just released his third solo CD, Distance and Comfort, through his own label, Ghetto Crush Industries. The record is about as DIY as it gets, since all tracks were written, performed, produced, engineered and mixed by Kenney. On Distance and Comfort, his variety in musical taste is obvious and in your face. While tracks like "Implants" are carried by heavy, galloping guitar riffs, the tables are quickly turned when the gentle and spacey guitars take control on "Some Days are Better Than Others." Kenney shows his hip-hop side with a smooth and sensual bass line that creates the groovy and danceable track "Get it to Go." Heavy Young Heathens and the Ohio Sky open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $12.50 advance, $15 day of show. - Wes Dodd

Hawthorne Heights

Chart-topping Ohioans Hawthorne Heights have experienced soaring highs and crushing lows the past three years. Their roller-coaster ride's taken them through basements and dives on their way from Dayton to Victory (Records) for their platinum-selling emo-pop debut, The Silence in Black & White. Six months after the release of 2006 follow-up If Only You Were Lonely, they sued their label, inaugurating an 18-month court odyssey that culminated in their return to Victory in the wake of guitarist Casey Calvert dying after a mix of painkillers for a root canal, depression and anti-anxiety medication. Their third album, Fragile Future, reflects their lost innocence. "Losing a band member and a best friend puts everything into perspective," says frontman J.T. Woodruff. Even bigger and more anthemic, the album's haunted by uncertainty ("Rescue Me," "Let Go of Everything You Know"). Woodruff admits, "There's a lot of the older guitar rock stuff in there." He credits the heavily polished arrangements to the longer gestation period. There's even some strings. Its ambition is born of carpe diem-inspired maturity. "You never know what's around the corner," Woodruff says. Trimmed back to a four-piece, Hawthorne Heights forge on minus Calvert's screams and guitar, compensating for the loss with a more epic scope. Emery, the Color Fred, Tickle Me Pink and the Mile After open at 6:30 p.m. at the Agora Ballroom (5000 Euclid Ave., 216.881.2221). Tickets: $19. - Chris Parker

J.D. Souther

On his first tour in 24 years, singer-songwriter J.D. Souther has essentially come out of hibernation with the release of If the World Was You last month. Over the course of his extensive career, the guy has written songs for the likes of the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor - but don't hold that against him. He's generally credited to be one of the main men behind the whole California country-rock sound that spawned more critically acclaimed acts such as the Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers and Buffalo Springfield. The tunes on If the World Was You, however, have an old-school jazzy flavor and reflect Souther's Texas roots, the place where he grew up listening to the jazz, country and rock stuff that he would later adopt as his own. The show begins at 7 p.m. at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Rd., 216.795.0550). Tickets: $25. - Niesel

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