Were I a clever cartoonist, I might depict this week's club scene as a muscle-bound pack mule whose knees were buckling beneath an impossible burden. Sadly, I am no such thing, so you'll just have to believe me when I say there are just too many great shows playing this week, and nobody can hope to make them all.
The Asylum Street Spankers return to the Hi-Tone CafÇ on Friday, March 12th. Playing all the hits your great-grandparents used to dance to, the Spankers put on one of the best live shows you'll ever see. They can lean a little heavily on the novelty song at times, and true-blue Spankers fans can be mighty obnoxious with their insistence on absolute silence during the set. But when the sultry-voiced Christina Marrs sings "Sugar in My Bowl," nothing else matters.
Fans of bluegrass and gospel won't want to miss Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, who play the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center on Sunday, March 14th. For a quarter-century, this group has blended the rich vocal harmonies of traditional gospel quartets with magnificent bluegrass picking. Lawson's ringing mandolin could easily be named one of the seven wonders of the sonic world.
Memphis' own Cadillac Cowgirl Nancy Apple is kicking off a new series she's calling "Twang-a-Dang-Doodle," featuring country-tinged singer-songwriters Kaz Murphy and Graham Lindsey. The honky-tonking gets under way at Kudzu's on Saturday, March 13th.
I'm going to toss in a quick plug for Clanky's Nub since these gloriously silly rockers never get enough respect. They are at the Young Avenue Deli Saturday, March 13th.
The treat of the week, however, is Big Betsy. This local superband only performs once a year. Every St. Paddy's Day, the Betsy boys play traditional Irish drinking songs in the rag-tag spirit of the Pogues, with occasional nods to Thin Lizzy and more frequent nods from excessive consumption of Jameson. And where might they be playing? Why Murphy's, where else? So grab your shillelagh, go drink some green beer, and scream requests for "Dirty Ol' Town." -- Chris Davis
The South by Southwest avalanche that we outlined in last week's Flyer begins in earnest this week, and more shows keep getting added. One notable SXSW-related show we didn't find out about in time for last week's rundown is Pittsburgh garage-rockers The Cynics, who'll play at Murphy's Sunday, March 14th, with The Sore Thumbs and Oxford's also Austin-bound Preacher's Kids. The Cynics have been notable figures on the underground garage-rock circuit since the mid-'80s, recording a series of well-regarded albums for indie labels such as venerable garage-rock specialists Get Hip. The band closed shop in 1994 but reformed eight years later after the popularity of the genre got a boost from the success of bands like the White Stripes and the Hives, releasing the album Living Is the Best Revenge in 2002. With the Cynics, you can expect a garage-rock sound that draws strong inspiration from the genre's '60s roots.
Another SXSW addition is Chicago's Baseball Furies, whose own brand of garage-rock is of a decidedly louder and faster variety. The Baseball Furies will join Pittsburgh guitar-and-drums duo The Modey Lemon and Washington, D.C., psychedelic rockers The Apes at the Young Avenue Deli Tuesday, March 16th.
Memphis will bid adieu this week to one of its brightest young stars as neo-soul singer Valencia Robinson preps for a move to New York City. Tha Movement is organizing a farewell party for Robinson Friday, March 12th, at the Precious Cargo coffeehouse in the Pinch District. --Chris Herrington