Jason Boland's bio reads like the lyrics to a classic country tune. Maybe that helps explain why Jason Boland and the Stragglers are among Texas country's best artists. Don't care for country? The waning days of 2013 also bring a sampler of jazz, folk and psychedelic percussion.
Friday, December 27, at Trees
There are some musical experiences that can't be understood if you first hear them on a mixtape track from that weird friend who insists that cassette tapes are going to make a comeback. If you've never heard the rhythmic, hypnotic sounds of the beloved Fort Worth band Spoonfed Tribe, take the opportunity to see them in person this Friday at Trees before you buy an album or find another way to obtain one of their songs. Their percussion sounds mixed with their psychedelic loops can turn even the most sedentary audience into an undulating mesh of waving arms and bodies. Danny Gallagher
Saturday, December 28, at House of Blues
Because he's capable of writing incredibly humorous songs ("She Left Me For Jesus" being the key example) Houston's Hayes Carll is often mistaken for some sort of Americana novelty act. But like two of his main influences, John Prine and Loudon Wainwright, Carll can be as emotionally distraught and painfully astute as any songwriter in any genre. Whether solo or with his top-notch band, Hayes Carll in a live setting is a thing of beauty, a Dylanesque, hyperbolic mass of contradictions and witticisms. Like Steve Earle, Carll plays real music that doesn't pander to red-dirt cliché or any notion of slick country pop. His music, like his appearance, is always ragged and right. Darryl Smyers
Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Jason Eady, Folk Family Revival
Saturday, December 28, at Granada Theater
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Recently, we named the title track of Jason Boland and the Stragglers' latest album, Dark and Dirty Mile, as one of the best Texas country tunes of 2013. Over the course of a 15 year career, Boland has overcome a life-threatening car crash, addiction and divorce. In 2008, a ruptured vocal cord almost cut Boland's career short as the group released what arguably stands as their greatest album, Comal County Blue. Even a tunesmith with half of Boland's skill could draw heart-wrenching material from such a series of catastrophes, but Boland isn't just any songwriter. Get to the show early for Jason Eady, by the way. Eady began a decade ago as a bluesy balladeer and has enjoyably turned into every bit the classic country savior Boland and his Stragglers are. Kelly Dearmore
Yells at Eels, Tidbits, Lazy Summer
Saturday, December 28, at Crown and Harp
Forget everything you've heard about the Dallas jazz scene (or lack thereof), because Yells at Eels now have their hands firmly placed in its innards. The local trio break apart, rebuild and then rearrange the machinery of music. Live, these guys throw the blueprints in the fire, and spew out an improvisational ferocity that's like a portrait, forever taking shape. Trying to track what goes on at their performances, instrumentally or compositionally, is like following elevators in free fall. Headed by trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and backed by his two sons Aaron (bass) and Stefan (drums), Yells at Eels are always moving and changing and, therefore, perpetually retain a startling level of newness, a raw slab of art that gets right to the essence of true musicianship. Max Roach and Charlie Haden would be very proud. Fellow free-jazzers Tidbits and Lazy Summer share the bill. Jonathan Patrick