Deep Blue Organ Trio leads this week's concert picks

Hailing from Chicago, the Deep Blue Organ Trio is on a mission to uphold the tradition of organ jazz, carrying the mantel of such legends as Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and Charles Earland. In fact, two of the trio’s members, guitarist Bobby Broom and drummer Greg Rockingham, enjoyed separate stints in Earland’s band. Deep Blue’s latest CD, Folk Music, lets you know what the trio’s all about. As Broom explains, they play “music of, by and for the people — the common folk.” Relying heavily on contemporary “standards” by the likes of Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham and the Beatles, Deep Blue explores the same pop and modern-jazz vehicles that made the classic organ trios hum. But this ain’t no two-bit tribute band. Broom, who has also played with Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and Dr. John (to name a few), has a light, crisp sound that can make you smile just before cutting to the bone. Hammond B3 organist Chris Foreman flaunts an expert right hand that runs off clean, single-note flurries. And the aptly named Rockingham propels the music with the kind of steady yet diverse and nuanced backing only dreamed of by rock’s drumming royalty. The show starts at 7 p.m. at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Road, 216.795.0550). Tickets: $20. — Matt Marshall

Fahir Atakoglu

Fahir Atakoglu’s latest release, Istanbul in Blue, continues the pianist’s fusion of the music of his native Turkey with the jazz and rock. But Istanbul is a livelier set than 2005’s If, employing frenzied, crunching guitar work by Mike Stern and Wayne Krantz, and using multireedist Bob Franceschini to expertly bridge the gap between East and West — his tenor and soprano saxes, alto flute and bass clarinet looping the sounds from an Ankara hookah café and Mississippi juke joint. For his part, the classically trained Atakoglu plays a clean, racing, almost Cuban piano, with left-hand block chords propelling the spirited, technically flawless sprint of the right. “I’m a melody man,” the award-winning composer of film scores, ballet music and jingles says in Istanbul’s liner notes. Atakoglu’s melodies — and his re-interpretations of them — will have a greater chance to shine with the trio he’s bringing to Nighttown, featuring bassist Matthew Garrison and drummer Cliff Almond. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Road, 216.795.0550). Tickets: $20. — Marshall

Blessid Union of Souls

After some hard work in the Morrow-to-Cincinnati corridor in the early ’90s and a little grassroots help from hometown DJs, Blessid Union of Souls hit big with “I Believe,” from their 1995 debut Home. The band’s self-described rural soul features touches of Edwin McCain, Hootie and the Blowfish, and tight boy-band harmonies, and they built a fairly broad fan base from that combination. Although the band’s eponymous 1997 follow-up didn’t scale the same heights, 1999’s Walking Off the Buzz spawned the summer megahit “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me for Me),” which was followed by a greatest-hits package that featured more unreleased songs than actual hits. By the time BUOS released Perception in 2005, the band had begun to splinter, and right now, there are two versions of Blessid Union of Souls. One is led by guitarist/co-founder Jeff Pence, the other by singer/co-founder Eliot Sloan. For those keeping score, it’s the latter lineup that will grace the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124) at 9 p.m. with Kelly Murray and Zach opening. Tickets: $15.
— Brian Baker

Trampled by Turtles

Though Duluth is far away from the Appalachian bluegrass scene, the boys in Trampled by Turtles would fit right in. In concert, they play one barn-burner after the next, as the five members weave guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo and fiddle together tightly. Minnesota’s favorite roots musicians put on a fantastically raw and ruthlessly vivacious show, maintaining a clean, crisp sound all the while. Onstage, they barely look up at the crowd. They’re so absorbed in their plucking they don’t seem to know anyone else is in the room. Yet the band doesn’t forget it’s putting on a sweaty, compelling show. Most of Trampled by Turtles’ fans seem to be from their home state, but the band is touring around the Midwest and South in support of its latest album, Duluth. Cleveland’s own Heelsplitter opens the show with what they call “music that is made from beer.” Tasty. They’ll kick things off at 8:30 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $10. — Danielle Sills

The Sword

The Sword has been revered over the past few years for its brand of heavy metal which pays tribute to older bands like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, and frequently references mythology and literature in its lyrics and song titles. The Austin foursome first started drawing attention in early 2006 with its raging debut Age of Winters. They released their second album, Gods of the Earth, last year. Both attracted metal fans and indie hipsters alike. This show, which will undoubtedly showcase the group’s ear-bending, powerhouse sound, is a small-hall engagement during their lengthy stint opening for Metallica in the U.S. and, next month, in Europe. The consensus, even from skeptics, seems to be that the Sword is one of the best live bands out there right now. Year Long Disaster, the Suede Brothers and Dr. Teeeth open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. — Emily Zemler

Powerman 5000

There are two reasons to go to a Powerman 5000 show. The first is the obvious nostalgia factor.  Remember the industrial/nü-metal craze? PM5K appeared at the tail end of it, but they got a big piece of the pie with videos for “When Worlds Collide,” “Nobody’s Real” and “Supernova Goes Pop.”  But 1999’s Tonight the Stars Revolt! was pretty much the apex. The second reason to check out these guys is to stare in wonder as the musical chameleons attempt to retool their sound every third year. Most amusing was 2006’s Destroy What You Enjoy, which found PM5K trying its hand at power-pop.  When Spider One sings “There’s money to be made off someone else’s shame/pain” on “Wild World,” it’s embarrassing. But there’s good news: The band is back to its old hijinks on the teaser track for its yet-unnamed sixth album coming out later this year. “Super Villain” is straight from the late ’90s, and that’s not such a bad thing. After all, these guys are really good at one thing: straightforward, super-catchy rock. Cleveland metalheads Malice 213 kick things off at 7 p.m. at Peabody’s (2083 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999). Tickets: $14 advance, $16 day of show. — Nick DeMarino

Where’s the Band

What happens when a lead singer is sick of sharing the spotlight with the rest of his band? He could become Justin Timberlake and emerge as a bigger-than-big pop star, host Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, and pretend he was never part of the little boy band you know. Or he could go on tour with a bunch of other frontmen and tell them all to leave their bandmates behind. The four dudes on the Where’s the Band? tour chose the latter. Dustin Kensrue of Thrice, Matt Pryor of the Get Up Kids, Chris Conley of Saves the Day and Anthony Raneri of Bayside are hitting the road together for an acoustic tour. So if you’ve ever wondered what Pryor sounds like without the Get Up Kids (and you missed his solo show in Cleveland with Kevin Devine a couple summers ago), here’s your chance. Each musician breaks out an acoustic guitar for solo performances, but they’ll jump onstage to play some tunes with one another too. The best of all worlds collide when members of your favorite bands form their own superband. The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $13 advance, $15 day of show. — Sills

The virgins

Apparently, the writers over at Rolling Stone were shitting their pants when they heard the Virgins. And it’s not because the band features innocent young boys who swear off sex. Week after week, the magazine bragged about the band, calling it the newest incarnation of the Strokes. Soon, the band’s entire EP was featured on an episode of Gossip Girl. The Manhattan-based group has earned the hype. Its self-titled debut is full of funky bass lines (think ’70s), expansive synthesizer (think ’80s) and power-pop vocals (pure Duran Duran). Songs like “Rich Girls” and “She’s Expensive” appeal to a mainstream audience as well as the indie crowd, just another sign that the ’80s are back. A lighter version of dance-rock bands like We Are Scientists, the Virgins light up the stage with falsettos and quirky riffs. Considering that the foursome’s favorite New York hangouts are dark and dingy places like the Lit Lounge, the Grog Shop will be the perfect venue for its Cleveland show. L.A. dream-pop chanteuse Anya Marina and fellow New Yorkers Lissie Trullie open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. — Sills

Tickle Me Pink

Jan. 24

Untimely death in rock ’n’ roll is a tragedy as old as the form itself. Last summer, Colorado emo/melodic pop quartet Tickle Me Pink joined rock’s saddest roll call when bassist Johnny Schou inexplicably died in his sleep on the eve of the release of Madeline, the band’s full-length debut. “Johnny wanted this as badly as we did,” says TMP frontman Sean Kennedy. “If he had been around and one of us had passed away, he would have wanted to go on, because he knew the passion all of us shared. There’s a lot of songs on the record that bring a whole new purpose to our live show when we’re playing them.” After a brief but appropriate period to collect themselves, TMP’s remaining members (Kennedy, drummer Stefan Runstrom, guitarist Steven Beck) made adjustments and resumed touring. Kennedy’s move to bass and guitarist Joey Barba’s addition made Tickle Me Pink reasonably road-ready. “Johnny and I were switching off already, and I’d play bass in a few songs,” says Kennedy. “So it wasn’t a horribly awkward transition. But Johnny had timing things that are kind of awkward to sing vocals with. I really wanted to play the same parts he did because I felt he deserved that, so I practiced my ass off before we came out.” Along with the Becoming and Anafair, the band opens for Red Jumpsuit Apparatus at 8 p.m. at the Agora Ballroom (5000 Euclid Ave., 216.881.2221). Tickets: $15.
— Brian Baker
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