One surefire way to get out of the winter doldrums is to check out a wicked-hot performance by an artist you’ve never seen before. You’ll find loads of thrilling chill-killers coming to town in the next few sub-zero weeks.
There’s good reason why the North Mississippi Allstars are consistently among the big draws at outdoor festivals all across the U.S. Cody and Luther Dickinson just have that telepathic brother groove going on, and they know how to use it to rock a party, whether it involves 10,000 mud-caked jam band fans or seven liquored-up pals in their daddy’s barn. And with Delta-bent blues guitar ace Alvin Youngblood Hart opening the Allstars’ Lee’s Palace show January 31, you’d better believe they’re gonna bring their A-game. $20. 416-870-8000.
A ticket to a Cat Power concert is like entering a lottery. You really don’t know which Chan Marshall you’re going to get until the show starts, and even then everything could change in an instant. It may only take something whispered by a stage crew member or maybe a particular article of clothing worn by a woman in the audience to set her off in a strange, unexpected direction. But having Judah Bauer, Gregg Foreman and Jim White, aka Dirty Delta Blues, joining Cat Power at the Kool Haus on February 9 should make for an entertaining experience even if Marshall decides to throw down her guitar and storm off stage after 12 minutes. $30. 416-870-8000.
Dean and Britta
The iconoclastic Lee Hazlewood has passed on, but the spirit of his delightfully twisted duets with Nancy Sinatra lives on in the magnificent musical partnership of former Luna main man Dean Wareham and his smouldering chanteuse sidekick, Britta Phillips. If you’d rather not try your luck with Cat Power, treat yourself to what promises to be a sensational Dean & Britta performance at the Mod Club on February 9 with the considerably less exciting Keren Ann presumably on hand to warm things up. $16. 416-870-8000.
The great thing about going to see Los Angeles singer/songwriter Eleni Mandell is that you can count on hearing her perform two, three or maybe more songs you’ve never heard her sing before. Mandell, unlike most of her contemporaries, places a higher premium on presenting an entertaining show than on pushing product. So expect her to lay a few of her latest compositions on you at the El Mocambo on February 16. $10.50. 416-870-8000.
Most people going to Massey Hall on March 4 will be there to see hardcore troubador Steve Earle reprise his pickup truck commercial jingles. But with his wife, country crooner Allison Moorer, opening the gig, the real excitement will be over before he even steps onstage. Don’t let the fact that Moorer happens to be the younger sister of Shelby Lynne dissuade you from getting to the Earle-fest early. Moorer will likely be performing songs by her favourite women artists that she recently recorded for her forthcoming Mockingbird album. Because Moorer had the good sense to hire Buddy Miller to produce it, she might actually get somewhere this time. $32.50-$42.50. 416-870-8000.