Good Friday: Seemingly Endless SXSW Backwash, The Sex Pistols Experience, Dale Watson, As Tall as Lions, Or The Whale, Billy Joe Shaver, These Arms Are Snakes, Randy Travis, Asobi Seksu, Great Lakes Myth Society and The Pink Spiders

With what looks to be the entire Observer music staff getting wasted on vacation tirelessly covering the SXSW Music Conference, it looks as if recommending a few of this weekend's metroplex shows falls to this weary critic.

Well, in this week's print edition, Pete, Jesse and others did a hell of a job covering what's going on up in these parts, including Jesse's terrific SXSW overspill piece and his story on Louisiana rapper Young Bleed coming to town this weekend. Plus, there were critic's picks for MSTRKRFT, Handsome Furs, Death Set and everybody's critical darling, Andrew Bird--all of whom are in town this weekend as part of the aforementioned overspill.

Somehow, though, I found a few other shows worth your while...

Chris Hawkes' CD Release Party
Friday, March 20 at Hailey's in Denton

Singer/songwriter/guitarist/recording engineer/producer Chris Hawkes is a Dallas native who now resides (where else?) in Austin. Hawkes' previous bands have included Redtag (which he formed while a student at UNT) and the more renowned Five Times August. Because I Feel That Way Too, Hawkes' sophomore solo effort, is earnest rock/pop that displays a keen songwriting touch. Perhaps a good audience could persuade Hawkes to make Dallas his home once again.

Tom Pacheco
Friday, March 20, at Uncle Calvin's Coffee House
Legendary singer/songwriter Tom Pacheco has been doing his version of folk/rock for over four decades. His songs have been covered by (among others) The Band, Ritchie Havens and Jefferson Starship. Pacheco's 20th release, Railroad Rainbows & Talking Blues, came out late last year and continues his tradition of amazing melodies and thoughtful wordplay.

The Sex Pistols Experience, Spector 45
Friday, March 20, at The Long Horn Ballroom
All I know is that these guys have the endorsement of Johnny Rotten himself--and that should be good enough for punks young and old. Plus, local heroes Spector 45 add some originality to this cover band experience. Unbelievably, it's been 31 years, 2 months and 10 days since the real Sex Pistols played this venue and the Ballroom is only one of two surviving locations from that ill-fated tour. Come on, eat some cheese and relive some memories.

Spittin' Cobras
Friday, March 20, at Rubber Gloves in Denton 
Come on, greasy punks from Seattle with songs that my 12-year-old son could have written; sometimes, you just have to support the learning disabled.

Dale Watson
Friday, March 20, at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton 
Just another seminal alt-country singer out of Austin. Watson knows his roots almost too well, as his shtick veers dangerously close to tribute band status. However, his songwriting is top notch and his singing is beyond reproach.

As Tall as Lions
Saturday, March 21, at the Pontiac Garage
I love bands that describe themselves as "indie/ambient rock." What the hell does that mean? In any case, this Long Island quartet does have something interesting going on that (partly) excuses their publicist's hyperbole. The band's newest opus, You Can't Take it With You, is rumored to hit the streets any day now.

Or, The Whale
Saturday, March 21, at The Doublewide
Light Poles and Pines, the debut full-length from this unwieldy named band, may be the best thing I've heard this year. Americana to an extent, for sure alt-country, this is music brash enough to escape easy labeling. These San Franciscans know a thing or two about harmony singing along with according and banjo playing, three essential ingredients to a successful hoedown. Or, The Whale is my "gotta see" pick of the weekend.

Billy Joe Shaver
Saturday, March 21, at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton 
This is a chance to hear a legend in a perfect venue. Not much recommending needed.

These Arms Are Snakes
Saturday, March 21, at Rubber Gloves in Denton 
Progressive/post-hardcore? Man, these descriptions tear me up. However, this Seattle-based quartet does have an intensity that certainly falls under the banner of punk, post or otherwise. TAAS's most recent effort, Tail Swallower and Dove, is a sneering, noisy slab that just gets better with each listen.

Randy Travis
Saturday, March 21, at Billy Bob's in Fort Worth

Hell, if mainstream country would have followed the lead of neo-traditionalists like Travis and Dwight Yoakum way back in the '80s, then maybe folks like Travis Tritt and Toby Keith would have formed metal bands instead of torturing us with their lame-ass version of schlock Americana.

Asobi SeksuThe Antlers
Sunday, March 22, at Rubber Gloves in Denton
"Asobi Seksu" is Japanese for "casual sex." That's good enough for me, but there's more: This quartet, led by the beautiful and talented Yuki Chikudate, has just released its third effort, the hypnotic Hush. Deceptively mellow, this is dreamy stuff, music of thought and imagination at a time when both are severely lacking in many areas of pop music.

Great Lakes Myth Society
Sunday, March 22, at The Chat Room in Fort Worth
If this weren't over an hour's drive for me, this would be the show of the weekend. This Michigan-based quintet is alt-rock/folk with brains and charm. The band's 2007 effort, Compass Rose Bouquet, was a nearly perfect example of how pop can be integrated into a rock record without corporate compromise.

Pink Spiders
Sunday, March 22, at The Lizard Lounge
What better way to cap off the weekend than with the pop/rock silliness of Nashville's Pink Spiders? The band's touring in support of Sweat It Out, the 2008 statement of purpose that gleefully wallows in campy depravity and sweating-to-the-oldies shtick. Fun and harmless, these Spiders would quickly be trampled by Little Miss Muffet. As a matter of fact, they'd probably enjoy it.

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