The Kessler hosts a pair of excellent shows this week, with ace songwriter Josh Garrels on Thursday and even better guitarist Jimmie Vaughan the next night. Elsewhere, post-punk dream band Yuck takes the stage once stalked by Nirvana.
Thursday, February 6, at the Kessler Theater
Josh Garrels epitomizes the phrase "God loves a cheerful giver." During a two-week stretch last March, his albums were downloaded for free 161,245 times on Noisetrade, and all the tips he received — more than $70,000— were donated to charity. Additionally, his 2011 album, Love & War & the Sea in Between, was downloaded for free more than 125,000 times during its first year. So why are people going crazy about Garrels? Mostly because he is not your typical heart-on-his-sleeve singer-songwriter, nor is he — as a musician of faith — dropping Jesus bombs every sentence. The thought-provoking artist falls into that uncomfortable space between the two, which he relishes. "The Resistance" showcases much of what makes him interesting, mixing his thick-as-molasses Citizen Cope-like voice with Chris Martin's falsetto and the tongue-twisting delivery of early Mat Kearney, all while laying bare his thoughts on the sometimes beautiful, sometimes harsh intersection between faith and the real world. Brian Palmer
Friday, February 7, at the Kessler Theater
Whether solo or with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughan's legendary guitar skills have been on display for the better part of four decades. Influenced by B.B. King and Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Vaughan's playing has always been beyond reproach. And unlike many skilled players, Vaughan also knows the value of restraint. Indeed, some of his best recorded moments have been when he played as much rhythm guitar as lead. His recent pair of Blues, Ballads & Favorites albums showcase how great a guitarist Vaughan is in an amazing variety of contexts. All of Vaughan's wares will be on display Friday night and the pristine sound at the Kessler will certainly enhance each and every note. Darryl Smyers
Friday, February 7, at Trees
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Somewhere between Yo La Tengo and Dinosaur Jr., adjacent to shoegaze and Elliot Smith, sit Yuck. With aesthetics plucked straight from the '90s and melodies 10 feet deep, Yuck strike a hook-heavy balance between indie noise and the daze of surf rock. This is the kind of grungy pop that makes every ex-college radio DJ salivate; the sort of quirky tunes inevitably destined to soundtrack a thousand coming-of-age moments. Oscillating between crunchy chords and woozy fluidity, Yuck's sound is all strung out with enough infectious slacker charm to sidestep the nostalgia trap. Hell, it wouldn't matter much anyway because Yuck aren't making music that aims for the clouds. Their cuts hit you square in the gut and reverberate below the belt. On Friday the London four-piece will play Trees — the very venue that famously housed Kurt Cobain himself — and for a night Yuck's musical DNA will collide with the history that helped write it, and what an awesome scene it will be. Jonathan Patrick
Saturday, February 8, at the House of Blues
Red-dirt country music doesn't get much better than Oklahoma's Turnpike Troubadours. This entertaining five-piece has been gaining new fans at every show since forming in 2007. The band's third effort, Goodbye Normal Street, came out in 2012 and highlighted everything right about Turnpike Troubadours. Songs like "Gin, Smoke, Lies," "Before the Devil Knows We're Dead" and "Call a Spade a Spade" are more akin to Steve Earl than Pat Green. Lord knows that's a good thing. Turnpike Troubadours are, thankfully, a little rough around the edges. Let us all pray that the band will stay that way. Darryl Smyers