30 Days Out: a look at upcoming concerts

WELCOME BACK, MY FRIENDS: Even with the 2016 deaths of progressive rock icons Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, drummer Carl Palmer's ELP Legacy keeps the faith. His trio reinvents ELP classics for modern-day progheads. The band plays the Grey Eagle May 11.

Twice monthly, my blog 30 Days Out spotlights upcoming music shows and events of note, shining a light into some less well-lit corners, where some fascinating artists schedule performances. I do my best to give ample advance notice so that you can adjust your budget and calendar in a way that lets you get to the show.

This time around, the focus is on legacy artists. Musicians who have been at the game for many years, sometimes paying tribute to the music they made decades ago with now long-gone band mates, other times reviving a long-defunct group because there’s still more to say, musically. And, in one case, it’s simply a band that’s been keeping at it — with both critical and commercial rewards — for a very long while.

Artist: Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Thursday, May 11, 8 p.m.
Door: $22
Sadly, in recent years the progressive rock world has lost several of its leading figures. Allan Holdsworth, Chris Squire and John Wetton are three of the biggest names to pass. We’ve also lost two-thirds of one of the biggest and grandest prog acts of all: ELP. Keith Emerson and Greg Lake both died in 2016. But drummer Carl Palmer — the ever-youthful percussion wizard of ELP (not to mention The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster and Asia) is as busy as ever. His ELP Legacy plays the music of his old group, but not in a slavishly imitative manner: There’s no keyboardist. Palmer and his band re-imagine ELP classics for a decidedly different kind of power trio.

Artist: Live Dead ’69
Venue: Salvage Station
Date: Saturday, May 6, 9 p.m.
Door: $20 advance / $25 day of show
People sometimes joke — more than a bit sardonically — about all of The Grateful Dead’s keyboard players having died. Of course that’s not true. While some might argue that Bruce Hornsby escaped the curse by switching over to dulcimer and Americana, that doesn’t explain the longevity of Tom Constanten, the Dead’s keyboardist from 1968 to ’70. Along with other luminaries from the San Francisco scene of the late 1960s — Darby Slick, the guy who actually wrote “Somebody to Love” for his band The Great Society; Peter Kaukonen, Jorma’s brother and an early member of both Hot Tuna and Jefferson Starship; Prairie Prince of the Tubes; and others — this group re-creates The Grateful Dead’s live music from the period before the band got (too) self-indulgent.

Artist: Clutch
Venue: Highland Brewing Co.
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 6:30 p.m.
Door: $30
Maryland-based Clutch draws from many genres in developing its heavy sound. One of the group’s most popular tracks is “Electric Worry” off its fourth album, 2007’s From Beale Street to Oblivion. Sounding more than a little bit like ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” the song nonetheless showcases Clutch’s strengths: high-octane riffage with a thunderous bottom end, lots of tasty guitar work, and vocals that encourage fist-pumping singalongs. The band is wholly capable of a more subtle musical approach, as can be witnessed on “The Regulator,” a cut off 2014’s Summer Sound Attack. Here, the group sounds more like the acoustic Led Zeppelin of that band’s third album. Yet Clutch maintains its individuality even when evoking thoughts of other bands, thanks mostly to Neil Fallon’s assured vocal work. Lucero and The Sword are also on the bill.

Artist: The Blasters
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Thursday, May 25, 9 p.m.
Door: $17 advance / $20 day of show
Thanks to the wonders of a fake ID card, I was fortunate enough to see The Blasters onstage (at Atlanta’s Agora Ballroom) in the early 1980s. I found the group — fronted by brothers Dave and Phil Alvin — raw, powerful and aggressive. They delivered a countrified sound with all of the punch of punk groups. In those days, the band wasn’t especially well-known in our part of the country; I vaguely recall that it might have even been someone else’s opening act. But the group delivered. The terms “Americana” and “cowpunk” weren’t in use then, and even the so-called “Paisley Underground” movement that gave rise to like-minded bands such as True West and Long Ryders was a couple of years in the future. Dave left the band in 1986, but Phil carries the torch, and The Blasters still burn. The Delta Bombers open.

You may also enjoy: With well over 2000 entries and way more than 300 interviews, my Musoscribe blog features new content — features, reviews and more — every business day. A proud tradition since 2009, now in its eighth year.


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About Bill Kopp
Author, music journalist, historian, collector, and musician. His first book, "Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon," published by Rowman & Littlefield, is available now. Follow me @the_musoscribe

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