The days are growing shorter, the magazines are (well, barely) getting larger and meatier, and the first batch of cider doughnuts is on the way real soon: all sure signs of autumn, as is the bountiful crop of prestigious concerts coming our way this season. Here are some of the highlights, in chronological order.
Kris Parker began his rap career as a member of the influential duo Boogie Down Productions, but is now better known as KRS-ONE. Parker, who in recent years has turned to gospel stylings and non-violent political activism, has also ironically become a right-wing whipping boy for some misinterpreted comments about the September 11 attacks. KRS-One is at Port City Music Hall on September 18. The same night, Robert Sylvain's much-loved Acadian group, BOREAL TORDU, release a new album at One Longfellow Square.
You may know Ian Svenonius as the charismatic mastermind behind the Make-Up, or as the host of the cult Internet interview show Soft Focus. The frontman brings his latest dance-rock frenzy, CHAIN AND THE GANG, to SPACE Gallery on September 20. The Asylum brings out some big names that week, as the generations-old Jamaican reggae group INNER CIRCLE arrive on September 23, two days before LA COKA NOSTRA — featuring Everlast and Danny Boy of House of Pain — make the crowd jump around.
A good pal of Tom Waits, barrelhouse bluesman JOHN HAMMOND — son of the legendary record producer and talent scout — is a favorite both of musicians and One Longfellow Square audiences, who were fitfully blown away by his last gig at the venue. He plays their second anniversary show on September 26. The strange and enchanting vibrato of BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE — credited for her folk songwriting chops, but long an innovator in multiple genres — hits Stone Mountain Arts Center on September 27, as the artist performs work from her first release in 17 years.
Chris Wood, the excellent upright bassist of Medeski Martin & Wood, is touring with his sibling, guitarist Oliver, as the WOOD BROTHERS, a folk duo with the requisite jazz influences. They'll headline Port City Music Hall on September 28, before opening for BRUCE HORNSBY & THE NOISEMAKERS at Portsmouth's Music hall on September 29. That night, the New Jersey trio the SCREAMING FEMALES return to Portland for a show at SPACE Gallery. Last in town a few months ago at Geno's, the Brit-inflected punk group have justifiably become one of the toasts of the indie blog scene.
After debuting his first opera on the UK this summer, the ambitious and often-brilliant avant-pop composer RUFUS WAINWRIGHT plays two area theater gigs: he's at Merrill Auditorium October 1, and the Music Hall on October 2. Also on the 1st, San Francisco's jammy bluegrass firebrands HOT BUTTERED RUM are at Empire Dine and Dance. Looking and performing like a hybrid of Evanescence and a band of freegan gutterpunks, Boston's HUMANWINE return to town for their Empire debut on the 3rd, hoping to draw some prospective fans from the night's sold-out SUFJAN STEVENS show at Port City Music Hall. (The gentle indie-quirk demigod, who limited fans to a pair of tickets per purchase, still sold out the venue in record time.) Also worthy of a draw on the 3rd is JONATHA BROOKE, who, apart from the theme song for Joss Whedon's latest TV show (Dollhouse), has a new album of songs written by Woody Guthrie in stores.
Likely drawing more spectators than all these gigs combined, American Idol's first and greatest export, KELLY CLARKSON, will be at the Cumberland County Civic Center on October 4. While she has yet to put out another single as galvanizing as "Since U Been Gone," she gets a career pass because of it.
The CEO of one of hip-hop's most gratifying and innovative labels, Definitive Jux, EL-P is arguably also its best artist. Expect a set heavy on his latest and greatest, I'll Sleep When You're Dead, at the Asylum October 8. An eclectic few days follow: Canadian folk titans GREAT BIG SEA are at the Music Hall on October 9; AL KOOPER — a hugely unsung '60s icon, who signed the Zombies to a major label and led Blood, Sweat & Tears — hits One Longfellow Square October 10; and one of jazz's great new-guard drummers, the Cuban DAFNIS PRIETO, brings his SI O SI QUARTET to Bates College's Olin Arts Center October 13.
Major-league prestige arrives in the days following: blues powerhouse KEB' MO' is at Portsmouth's Music Hall on October 14, while the Merrill Auditorium has a doozy of a doubleheader after that: it's southwestern-flavored guitar rock heaven with LOS LONELY BOYS and ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO on October 16, and country legend EMMYLOU HARRIS the next evening. Rising pop/folk star ANTJE DUVEKOT comes back to One Longfellow Square on the 16th as well, the same night easygoing pop/rocker MASON JENNINGS is at Port City Music Hall.