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Two more shows: Sad Brad Smith, Leon Redbone

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Bradley Grant Smith is a Chicago actor who wrote and recorded a song that found its way into a poignant moment in the Oscar-bait George Clooney film "Up in the Air." That song is not on his self-released debut full-length, "Love Is Not What You Need," which he's celebrating the release of in concert. But the light, acoustic sound -- melancholy colors but cheerful tones, like a Well-Drawn Boy or a ukulele-free Dent May -- is intact and worthy of the celebration. Hear him at 8 p.m. Sunday at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. Midnight Moxie opens. Tickets, $10. Call (773) 525-2508,

With one of the most easily identifiable voices in modern music, Leon Redbone has celebrated stuff so old-timey most of it predates him. Dig those flapper-era tunes you heard in "Boardwalk Empire"? Redbone does those, the freewheeling '20s and '30s stuff that wasn't about the Dust Bowl. Expect some funny stories, too, at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. Tickets, $24-$28, (773) 728-6000;

3 more shows: Mike Reed, Nitzer Ebb, No Age

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One of the reasons the acts at Chicago's annual Pitchfork Music Festival are often strangely varied but neatly harmonious is that they're selected by a jazz man. German-born Mike Reed sometimes spends so much time working on that, though, that he neglects his own inventive music. This weekend, his band Loose Assembly reconvenes for its first performance in more than a year, debuting music from a new recording, "Empathetic Parts." The CD features legendary reed player Roscoe Mitchell, who also will be onstage. The setting couldn't be cooler: 4 p.m. Saturday at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park -- indoors, with the bandshell closed to the elements. Admission is free. Visit

Chicago fans of European industrial and experimental music are having happy holidays this year. Next month, Germany's Einsturzende Neubauten returns for two different shows, and this weekend England's Nitzer Ebb is back, supporting its first new release in more than a decade (January's "Industrial Complex"). Pioneers in electronic assault, the duo of Douglas McCarthy and Vaughn Harris reunited a couple of years ago to play some dates around a suite of remixes, then wound up writing new material. At 9 p.m. Saturday at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee. Tickets, $25-$35. Call (773) 489-3160;

The drum-and-guitar duo of Dean Spunt and Randy Randall -- visual and performance artists as well as ex-Wives (a hard-core band) -- has been a buzz band on several bills this year, including their eye-opening performance in front of Pavement this fall at Millennium Park. Catch their finely crafted noise-pop in the perfectly snuggly confines of Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln. Lucky Dragons and Cacaw open starting at 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets, $15. Call (773) 525-2501;

Max Weinberg and his wry grin followed Conan O'Brien from late night to the "Tonight" show as his bandleader, but he won't be sticking with Conan for his upcoming cable run. Instead, Weinberg is embarking on chapter three of a storied career (chapter one, still in progress, is his longstanding membership in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band), leading a classic big band, playing standards. Loyalists can check it out at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. Tickets, $34-$38. Call (773) 728-6000;

Whatever happened to the happy sneer of bands like the Violent Femmes? Try Evanston-raised Ezra Furman, who begins a weekly residency next week as part of the Practice Space series at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. He'll be playing solo acoustic, sans band (the Harpoons), beginning at 8 p.m. Monday and each Monday after that through Nov. 15. Tickets, $6. Call (773) 525-2508;

Remember the DJ at the MTV VMAs last month, the guy with the LED-flashing Mickey helmet? That's Deadmau5. He mixes house music right on the border of dance and hip-hop. With Halloween on the horizon, maybe he'll redo "Ghosts N Stuff" during one or both of his shows this weekend, at 7:30 tonight and Saturday night at the Congress Theatre, 2135 N. Milwaukee. Die Antwoord opens tonight, Booka Shade on Saturday. Tickets ($42) are available for tonight's show, while Saturday is sold out. Call (773) 598-0852;

The electronica duo are about to launch a coast-to-coast tour with Thievery Corporation (which on tour includes Poi Dog Pondering's Frank Orrall on percussion). But before all that, Massive Attack plays a show here without them, supporting the tepidly received new "Heligoland" CD. Opening here will be trip-hop vocalist Martina Topley Bird. 8:30 tonight at the Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine. Tickets, $40;

Has it been a year already? Chicago's spiffy new venue named for its location, Lincoln Hall, celebrates its one-year anniversary in business this weekend with DeVotchKa, the ear-bending vocal and instrumental ensemble that worked hard for years before you caught up with them on the "Little Miss Sunshine" soundtrack. Also on the bill: Angus & Julia Stone and Chicago's Scotland Yard Gospel Choir. At 8:30 tonight and Saturday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln. Tickets, $25;

Our Town's omnipresent rascal is back with a new disc, "Old Devils," and is staging a "pre-Halloween party" called the Old Devil's Ball to celebrate. He'll play with his thundering band, Skull Orchard, along with Andre Williams & the Gold Stars, Sally Timms and MC Danbert Nobacon. At9 p.m. Saturday at Martyrs, 3855 N. Lincoln. Tickets, $12;

Club-Hopping: Watson Twins, Flesh Hungry Dog Show

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Though they're probably still best known for enveloping Jenny Lewis with gorgeous harmonies on her 2006 album "Rabbit Fur Coat," the Watson Twins, Chandra and Leigh, also have made some extraordinary music on their own, including their recent album, "Talking to You, Talking to Me." The pair performs at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 4. Tickets are $20 ($18 for Old Town members, $16 for seniors and children) via, or call (773) 728-6000.

One of the musical underground's most vibrant and diverse club nights, the Flesh Hungry Dog Show celebrates its fifth anniversary of monthly multi-media bacchanals at 9 p.m. Friday, April 2, at Jackhammer, 6406 N. Clark. The lineup includes the Joans, Bobby Conn + Burglars and the electro-glam act Brilliant Pebbles. Tickets are $12 online at or $15 at the door.

Club-Hopping: Air, the Appleseed Cast

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Long before the members of Phoenix were generating a major buzz as the hippest French export since Serge Gainsbourg (if not Bridget Bardot), their mentors in the duo Air, Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, were making some of the coolest ambient/electronic pop music this side of Brian Eno. Touring in support of their latest album "Love 2," they come to the Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 24. AM opens, and tickets are $32 via, (312) 559-1212.

Indie/underground favorites the Appleseed Cast never disappoint in concert, but on their current tour, they're putting a special twist on things, performing two of their best-known albums, "Low Level Owl, Vol. 1" and "Low Level Owl, Vol. 2," back to back in their entirety. The group performs at the Bottom Lounge, 1375 W Lake St., after openers Dreamend (featuring Ryan Graveface of Graveface Records and Black Moth Super Rainbow) at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $15 via; call (312) 929-2022 or visit

Club-Hopping: The Black Eyed Peas, Jeff Tweedy

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Choose whatever adjectives you will to describe the Black Eyed Peas--pandering posers or hip-pop geniuses--they're vastly entertaining live onstage, and, Fergie and the other guys roll into the United Center, 1901 W. Madison, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12, on the tour supporting their fifth studio album, "The E.N.D.," which already has racked up sales of 3 million in the U.S. alone. Ludacris and LMFAO open, and tickets are $49.50 to $89.50 via, (312) 559-1212.

On a rare break between Wilco tours, that band's leader plays two shows this weekend at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield, starting at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 12-13. Jeff Tweedy's solo gigs always are a prime opportunity to hear him road-test new material and reinvent old favorites, and proceeds benefit a children's scholarship fun. Tickets still remain for $50 via or at the Vic box office, (773) 472-0449; other price points vary.

Club-Hopping: The Frantic, Alkaline Trio

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Suburban Lemont may not have earned a reputation as a rock 'n' roll hotspot just yet, but the newish venue This Must Be The Place at 206 Main St. is trying to change that, and owner Dan Farnesi already has some bragging rights as the father of two of the members of stellar pop-punks the Frantic. The group will top the bill on Saturday [Feb. 27] at a benefit for the always-worthy Rock for Kids charity starting at 9 p.m. and also featuring Late Night Hooligan Riff Raff and the Nik Galik Band. The suggested donation is $10; for more information, visit or call (630) 243-1500.

If the demise of Fall Out Boy turns out to be true, that leaves Alkaline Trio as the best-selling mainstream punk band hailing from Chicago at the moment (though that may not really be worth bragging about). The group celebrates the release of its seventh studio album, "This Addiction," with two sold-out shows this weekend [Feb. 27-28] at Metro, 3730 N. Clark. Saturday's starts at 9 p.m., Sunday's at 6:30 p.m. and both feature openers Cursive and the Dear & Departed.

Club-Hopping: Scott Lucas, Dame-Nation

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One week during a year-long separation from his girlfriend, Local H front man Scott Lucas wrote a set of songs and emailed her one a night with the hope of winning her back. Though he has long been one of the most underrated songwriters in Chicago, these songs reveal a more intimate side than Lucas has shown before, and he decided to record them with a more rootsy combo, a side project he's dubbed the Married Men. The band celebrates the release of "George Lassos the Moon" on Saturday, Feb. 20, at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, in between an opening set by Apteka at 10 p.m. and headliners Sybris. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door; call (773) 525-2508 or visit

Hard rock and heavy metal aren't known as the most female-friendly genres, but Chicago Girls Rock is a group devoted to changing that perception, in part with events such as "Dame-Nation," a lineup of seven female-fronted bands storming the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee, starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, and scheduled to last eight hours. The performers include Whiskey Blonde, High Gloss Black, Sage4, F.H.O.D., Deadmanswake, Losing Scarlett and the Hannah Ford Band, and tickets are $15; for more information, visit or

Celebrating its storied 50th anniversary, the annual University of Chicago Folk Festival moves into Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th, for three nights of concerts plus daytime workshops, dances and jam sessions tonight through Sunday, Feb. 12 to 14. Among this year's performers: Kim Wilson, Kurt Bjorling and Jim Stoynoff, the New Mules, Liz Carroll and friends, Aaron Moore and the James King Band. For a schedule of performances and other events, visit; to purchase tickets, visit the Mandel Hall box office or call (773) 702-7300.

Otherworldly music isn't just for Halloween, and Chicago's reigning Goth DJ Scary Lady Sarah will preside over two holiday events this weekend. Nocturna's "New Loves & Broken Hearts Valentine's Ball" takes place at Metro, 3730 N. Clark, starting at 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 ($10 cover), and "Shimmer: A Shoegaze/Dreampop Valentine's Dance" starts at 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, at Darkroom, 2210 W. Chicago (admission is free). For more information, visit

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