Do no Harmer
Sarah Harmer 's back from her four-year recording hiatus with the winsome All Of Our Names (Universal). The faux foliage of the Winter Garden should provide a perfect organic vibe for Canada's folk-rock It Girl's live show, and her brand-new backing band - featuring Inbred Mike O'Neill and local indie powerhouses Dean Stone (Emm Gryner) and Julie MacDonald (A Northern Chorus) -is killer. The first show sold out so quickly that another date was added, so get in there soon. April 26 and 27. $32. 416-870-8000.
The artist formerly known as Merrill Nisker returns to her hometown when Peaches brings the triple-X tunes from last year's Fatherfucker (Beggars XL) disc to the Opera House along with labelmates Young Heart Attack and Montreal karaoke weirdo Worldprovider . Although the album received so-so reviews, the electrotrash queen's live performances have been known to feature everything from nearly naked go-go boys and blood-spitting to dildos coordinated with her outfits. May 5. $20. 416-870-8000.
Former Red Red Meat member Tim Rutili has a bit of a rotating-door policy with his innovative post-rock outfit Califone , so it's always exciting to see which Chicago indie experimenters join him and collaborator Ben Massarella onstage to flesh out Califone's powerful cinematic found soundscapes. Rutili and co. did a marvellous job performing the sparse, evocative tracks from 2003's Quicksand/Cradlesnakes EP when Califone swung through town last spring, so we're looking forward to seeing what tricks they have in store for their May 6 Horseshoe show. $10. www.rootmeansquare.ca
Damien II: The Return
Fast-rising Dubliner Damien Rice - the Irish Badly Drawn Boy - returns to Toronto with his countrymen the Frames on April 23, bringing a new batch of tunes in hopes of proving his widely praised O (Warner) album wasn't a fluke. His packed-out showcase at the El Mocambo last year proved a stellar affair, and you should expect nothing less from the upcoming show at Convocation Hall (recently moved from Trinity-St. Paul's). The venue upgrade suggests word on Rice is spreading quickly, so catch him now. He may be at the Air Canada Centre next time. $30. 416-870-8000.
Soul & blues extravaganza
With a staggering lineup that includes Ruth Brown , Ike Turner , Little Milton , Howard Tate , Bobby Rush , Alvin Youngblood Hart , Robert Jr. Lockwood and Chris Thomas King , the Blues On Tour Revue is one of the biggest and best soul and blues extravaganzas ever to hit T.O. What makes the Hummingbird Centre getdown on April 29 even more exciting is that the backing bands aren't pickup groups thrown together with available locals but real live touring outfits led by Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Duke Robillard . Destined to be a historic night. $55.50-$85.50. 416-870-8000.
When teen Brit-soul sensation Joss Stone hits the stage of the already sold-out Opera House for her triumphant Toronto return April 20, she'll likely still be reeling from her Las Vegas gig two nights before, where she shares the stage of the MGM Grand with Kylie Minogue, Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper, Patti LaBelle and Jessica Simpson for the taping of the 2004 edition of VH1 Divas. It's been a rocket ride to stardom for 16-year-old Stone, who not very long ago was singing into a comb in front of her bedroom mirror. 416-466-0313.
Merle does Massey
There aren't many true country legends left standing, so Merle Haggard 's rare Toronto appearance at Massey Hall May 25 should be considered a major event. It also happens to be a great time to see the Nashville outsider, since his recent recordings for Anti/Epitaph and his new self-released Like Never Before (Hag Records) disc are among his career best. $52-$77.50. 416-872-4255.
Considering that until the release of Kraftwerk 's Tour De France Soundtracks (Astralwerks) disc last August, the electro-pop innovators hadn't released a proper studio album since Electric Café some 17 years before, Kraftwerk's decision to re-tweak some old faves in place of adventurous new material was a huge disappointment. Fortunately, their Ricoh Coliseum gig April 23 features this year's model of Kraftwerk - with Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider joined by long-time collaborators Fritz Hilpert and Henning Schmitz . $19.50-$47.50. 416-870-8000.
CDs set to drop April 27 Patti Smith Trampin' Diana Krall The Girl In The Other Room May 4 Los Lobos The Ride Beta Band Heroes To Zeros Mission of Burma ONoffON May 18 Alanis Morissette So-Called Chaos Morrissey You Are The Quarry The Streets A Grand Don't Come For Free May 25 Avril Lavigne Under My Skin Pedro the Lion Achilles Heel June 8 Wilco A Ghost Is Born Sonic Youth Nurse