The concept recordings of Willie Nelson have been more miss than hit in recent years, and the possibility of being subjected to an evening of the country great's interpretations of reggae tunes or children's songs has left even long-time fans of the Red-Headed Stranger somewhat leery about buying advance tickets for his shows. But the release of his new You Don't Know Me (Lost Highway) disc - a beautifully realized tribute to western swing songwriter Cindy Walker - suggests that he's back on track, and bodes well for his Air Canada Centre (40 Bay) show with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band May 2. $59.50 to $69.50. 416-870-8000.
Ever since Eddie Spaghetti and company received the rubber glove treatment at Customs a few years back, Canadian dates have been conspicuously absent from Supersuckers tour itineraries. But although Mr. Spaghetti vowed never to return to the Great White North, he's apparently had a change of heart. Hopefully, their next border-crossing attempt will be less traumatic, and the Supersuckers will make their scheduled April 20 stop at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West). Their fired-up performances are never less than end-to-end burners. 416-532-1598.
Headman headin' in
Berlin's Headman (aka Robi Insinna ) brings his new-wave-inflected nouveau disco to town for a night of edgy indie dance May 19 at Spin Gallery (1100 Queen West). He's remixed everyone from Franz Ferdinand and Roxy Music to Annie and the Scissor Sisters, and his upcoming album promises to establish him as one of the top producers in the post-house dance-rock scene.
Dance club action
It was a slow winter for club action, with most of the big underground clubs closed for renovations or in some cases closed permanently. Spring looks much better, though. On April 29, 270 Spadina (now christened Sonic ) re-opens. Expect big, chunky tribal house, a mixed but gay-friendly crowd and a massive sound system. NYC house icon David Morales is one of the people behind the club, so expect some big names to come through on a regular basis. Former NYC nightclub kingpin Peter Gatien will be making a grand re-entry to the nightlife scene with the May opening of Circa in the cavernous space formerly known as Lucid (126 John). It's slated to be a combination live and DJ space, with at least four separate DJ booths and two stages. The owners hope to attract art types and hipsters to the touristy club district, but it may take more than a DJ in the bathroom to make that happen.
Over The Top drawer
Eric Warner may be the new kid on the block as far as Toronto's mega-festivals go, but his Over The Top fest of offbeat indie music - now entering its fifth year - consistently features some of the coolest and most exciting acts you never knew you were dying to see. This year's, with shows scheduled at a handful of venues including the Music Gallery , Sneaky Dee's , the Boat and the Drake , kicks off May 4 with heart-on-his-sleeve rock dandy Gentleman Reg and Brooklyn experimental crew Japanther , and runs through May 7. Acts range from Tiger Beat electro fave Kid606 to legendary improvisers the Nihilist Spasm Band and Montreal nerd pop upstarts the Lovely Feathers . Best of all? Every event is totally all-ages, so you can wean your kid sibs off Hilary Duff by exposing them to some seriously cool shit. www.overthetopfest.com.
The announcement of a show by the Saints at the Horseshoe April 27 held special promise since the first-wave Brisbane punk group are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Unfortunately, wine-sipping bon vivant Chris Bailey won't be touring with co-founding members Ivor Hay and Ed Kuepper. Instead, the Saints are now a power trio, with the thumping rhythm section of Pete Wilkinson and Caspar Wijnberg from 2005's roaring Nothing Is Straight In My House CD. In any case, hearing Bailey rip through the group's early classics like (I'm) Stranded, Know Your Product, No Time or This Perfect Day will still be a kick. 370 Queen West. 416-870-8000.
Islands in the stream
Still mopping up the tears you've shed on the sleeve of your stylin' Fred Perry polo over the somewhat premature death of Montreal indie pop brats the Unicorns? Weep no longer, comrade: two-thirds of the 'Corns gang ( Nick Diamonds and Jaime T'ambour are back in action, and they've put a new spin on their old tricks in the even more whimsical pop mini-orchestra Islands , bolstered by Guelph-bred guitar ace Jim Guthrie and a pair of Suzuki violin nerds. If history's any indication, they may even break out some snazzy all-white outfits when they swing by the Opera House (735 Queen East) with Victoria art rock faves Frog Eyes , insanely hyped Prairie hiphop hotshot Cadence Weapon , Wolf Parade side project Sunset Rubdown and offbeat MC Busdriver . Be there before you read about it in Vice. May 19. www.rootmeansquare.ca.
One of the most impressive performances at this year's recent South By Southwest music fest in Austin was an ear-blistering set by ragged-ass heartland rock duo the Two Gallants . They may hail from San Francisco and may have released their latest disc, What The Toll Tells, on the emo-friendly Omaha label Saddle Creek (home to Bright Eyes and his pals), but after 30 seconds of Adam Stephens 's raw-throated working-class confessionals and searing Gretsch guitar attack, you'll realize these fellas are the furthest thing from sissies. Bring earplugs when they descend on the Silver Dollar May 2. 486 Spadina. 416-763-9139.