John Mayer plays Sunday night at AAC.Rachel Parker
It's a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll this week in North Texas with four country acts taking to our stages and a couple other acts that dabble in the genre. The week kicks off with a birthday party for singer-songwriter Thomas Csorba in Oak Cliff, followed by a three-night bash at Billy Bob's Texas with the Turnpike Troubadours. Bluegrass prodigy Billy Strings comes to town Saturday night, and country rocker Lucinda Williams plays two nights at The Kessler. Then there are acts Pinegrove and John Mayer, which have definitely drawn inspiration from the country world while never actually joining it. Filling out the list is a surf-rock/death-metal band, an electronic music pioneer, an iconic post-punk revival band and the return of one of Dallas' greatest talent buyers for a show with a lot of pre-pandemic vibes. Whether you're kicking back or rocking out, this is a great weekend to de-stress. Thomas Csorba 6 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St., Free
Thomas Csorba (pronounced “chore-buh”) is a young country singer from Waco who made quite the impression on North Texas crowds opening for absolutely anybody and everybody who would take him on as bigger country acts came through our neck of the woods. Now supporting his own, self-titled, debut album, Csorba will be bringing his soft and witty style of country to The Kessler Green on Thursday evening in celebration of his birthday. You won’t want to miss him for his humor, heart and disarmingly honest lyrics. Joining Csorba on The Kessler's outdoor stage is Nashville singer-songwriter Ryan Culwell. The heartland rocker whose music has been compared to artists as disparate as Steve Earle and The War On Drugs has recently released his fourth album, Run Like A Bull. Turnpike Troubadours 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 21-23, at Billy Bob's Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, Sold Out
The long-awaited return of the Turnpike Troubadours happens over the course of three nights this weekend with three sold-out shows at Billy Bob's Texas. In fact, this show has been so highly anticipated that when the tickets for the Friday and Saturday shows went on sale in January, Billy Bob's Texas reported on its social media that it was one of the fastest sell-outs in the venue's history. When the Thursday show was added in February, it sold out just as fast. What makes the Turnpike Troubadours such a highly sought after country band is their ability to play absolute barn burners such as "Before the Devil Knows We're Dead" and soul-crushers like "Good Lord Lorrie." It doesn't hurt that the songwriting team of guitarist RC Edwards and singer Evan Felker has turned out some of the most well-crafted lyrics of any country musician to date. That's a lofty claim for sure, but three sold-out nights at North Texas' premier country music venue is pretty solid evidence. Kólga 9 p.m. Friday, April 22, at Double Wide, 3510 Commerce St., $10 at prekindle.com
From the icy depths of, um, Dallas comes Kólga, a band that mixes black metal with surf rock and performs in custom-made sea monster masks and Hawaiian shirts. Kólga started as a bedroom project when singer and guitarist Glib Mongo (aka Jason Mullins) was fiddling around with GarageBand while visions of surf rocker Dick Dale, the various strains of black metal and H.P. Lovecraft became intermingled in his brain. Drenched in nautical horror, he felt the need to keep the theatrics at their highest, turning its surfy black metal into high performance art. The band's stage masks — a snorkeler, a shark, an anglerfish, a kraken and a surfer zombie — are inspired by B-movie horror like the "Something to Tide You Over" segment from the 1982 film Creepshow when Leslie Nielsen and Ted Danson come back as shriveled-up, shrunken zombie creatures. Kólga performs alongside two equally strange bands, Oblong Cassidy And His Space Horse and Insecto Ray Orchestra. Paul Oakenfold 10 p.m. Friday, April 22, at Stereo Live Dallas, 2711 Storey Lane, $10+ at eventbrite.com
Paul Oakenfold is simply one of the most important and influential DJs to grace the world of electronic music. Before the now-legendary trance DJ ever released his first official album in 2002, he had already made his mark in the worlds of U.K. and U.S. dance music. The first DJ to headline the Glastonbury Festival in 1999 and a major attraction at Cyberfest the next year in Fresno (the largest dance festival ever in America at that point in time), Oakenfold paved the way for every DJ who has followed in his path to stardom. In recent years, Oakenfold has stayed busy working on everything from mixes to film scores to collaborations with artists such as Britney Spears, The Rolling Stones and New Order. After releasing what will only be his fourth studio album, Shine On, in early 2022, Oakenfold returns to Dallas to play electronic music venue Stereo Live. King Camel Returns 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Three Links, 2704 Elm St., $15 at seetickets.us
There was a time in Dallas' recent music history when Jeffrey Brown of King Camel dominated the world of local talent buying. In 2018, Brown infamously took to the then-Canton Hall stage to accept the Dallas Observer Music Award for Best Talent Buyer, held his trophy in the air and told the cheering audience, "We fucking rule, dude! Suck my ass!" It wasn't long thereafter, however, that Brown's career and personal life took a dramatic downturn. In 2020, things were starting to look up for Brown, but when the pandemic hit, all of his plans to start booking shows again fell apart. Now that the pandemic has ended, King Camel is coming back with all of its pre-COVID flair. The show will feature favorites of King Camel's past with performances by psych-blues-boogie band Smoky Mirror, emo-punk band Upsetting and darkwave band Rosegarden Funeral Party. Pinegrove 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at The Studio at The Factory, 2727 Canton St., $25+ at axs.com
When indie band Pinegrove made its breakthrough in 2016 with its second album Cardinal, audiences were stunned by singer Evan Stephens Hall's light, country twang and unflinchingly emotional lyrics. The album showed there was very little that separated the worlds of indie-rock, emo and alt-country. Take a song like "Old Friends," the lead track from that album — it opens with a simple acoustic strum, laying the foundation for the narrator's labyrinthian walk through mental health disturbances, lost friends and missed connections. The song rises after the third verse with orchestral country instrumentation that somehow refuses to be country. The band's most recent album, 11:11, came out in January and received praise for keeping up with the band's history of heart-on-sleeve music. Pinegrove plays Saturday night at The Factory in Deep Ellum with two opening acts, Arizona singer-songwriter Kat Kirby and Chuck. Billy Strings 8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory, 300 W. Las Colinas Blvd., $59.50 at livenation.com
Grammy Award–winning guitarist and bluegrass musician Billy Strings burst onto the country music scene in 2017 when Rolling Stone named the artist one of the "Top Ten New Country Artists to Know." The following year, the magazine published a profile of Strings, heralding him as the next in a long line of breakneck, bluegrass pickers. Since then, Strings has been invited to play alongside artists such as The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and Dierks Bentley. Most recently, a video of Strings playing Johnny Cash's "Cocaine Blues" on stage with Grapevine rapper Post Malone went viral. Strings released his most recent album, Renewal, last fall. With lyrics touching on relationships, human rights and the loss of a friend to suicide, Strings' latest release proves that the singer's incredible musicianship is matched by his lyricism. John Mayer 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 24, at American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave., $59.50+ at ticketmaster.com
John Mayer is bringing his Sob Rock Tour to American Airlines Center this Sunday with opening support from Arkansas singer-songwriter Yebba. For the past two decades, Mayer has been all around the music world — from his early acoustic solo work to his country band to his time sitting in alongside Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann as Dead & Company. Mayer has often been the subject of controversy. From his infamously problematic Playboy interview in 2010 to his firm place in Taylor Swift's lyrics, Mayer certainly had his issues with women before becoming sober in 2016. Since then, he has released some of his very best work with The Search for Everything in 2017 and Sob Rock in 2021. Sure, it's cool to hate on John Mayer for being a pleasantly bland musician, but the truth of the matter is that Mayer's music has stood the test of time because he really is just a good songwriter. Interpol 7 p.m. Monday, April 25, at The Factory in Deep Ellum, 2713 Canton St., $45+ at axs.com
Kicking off a 2022 tour in support of the upcoming album The Other Side of Make-Believe in Dallas on Monday night, The Factory in Deep Ellum will host post-punk revival band Interpol. For the new album, the band wanted to show themselves in a new light, turning to producers Flood and Alan Moulder, who have collectively worked on releases by U2, The Smashing Pumpkins, PJ Harvey, Nine Inch Nails, The Killers and others. The band spent the first year of the pandemic collaborating remotely from three countries: drummer Sam Fogarino was in Athens, Georgia; singer/guitarist Paul Banks in Scotland and guitarist Daniel Kessler in Spain. After communicating by email to send files and ideas to each another, the band was finally able to get together in a secluded Catskills studio more than a year after the pandemic’s onset. Producers TYCHO and Matthew Dear open the show. Lucinda Williams 7 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, April 25-26, at The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St., $56+ at prekindle.com
Country rocker Lucinda Williams will be playing two nights at The Kessler in Oak Cliff early next week. At the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020, Williams released her 14th studio album, Good Souls Better Angels. The album has been called the most topical album in Williams' career with songs such as "Man Without A Soul" — a biting critique of former President Donald Trump that earned the singer-songwriter her 17th Grammy Award nomination since 1994. Good Souls also touches on the other topics from the daily news cycle, depression, domestic abuse and the devil. At nearly 70 years of age and after four-and-a-half decades of recording, Williams has not slowed down a bit, still mixing soulful meditative songs with hot and heavy tracks that still keep audiences thinking and sweating after all these years.
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David Fletcher writes about music, arts and culture for the Dallas Observer. You can usually find him at a show in Deep Ellum whether he's writing about it or not. A punk scholar and local music enthusiast, David focuses his attention on the artists screaming in the margins of Dallas' music scene.