Music Picks: Lance Lopez, Riverboat Gamblers and More

It's the quietest week of the live music year, with everyone nursing a New Year's Eve hangover and preparing for the spring album release bonanza. You can still find plenty to keep your nights full, though, with a hometown show from blues titan Lance Lopez and some promising punk.

Riverboat Gamblers

Thursday, January 2, at Three Links

The punk band with the name that sounds like they should be headlining at the Grand Ole Opry got its start pounding out its unhinged sound for the banging heads of the Denton college scene. Thankfully, age and success haven't quelled the anger that earned them their keys to the punk kingdom. Their latest album, The Wolf You Feed, has a decidedly slower tone with blood-stained songs like "Blue Ghosts" and "Comedians," but it spreads their trademark high-energy disdain like a pat of butter over a warm roll, giving it time to melt and seep into all its cracks and crevasses. Plus, frontman Mike Wiebe can somehow defy the ravages of aging by still finding new gravity-defying ways to keep the high-kicking punk effect alive and well in his group's shows. Expect a healthy helping of both when Denton's punk sons return to just outside of their homeland for a live show at Three Links on Thursday. Danny Gallagher

Lance Lopez

Friday, January 3, at Trees

Dallas' own blues/rock guitar slinger Lance Lopez has been doing his best Stevie Ray Vaughan impression for the better part of three decades. Hailed by such luminaries as Buddy Miles, B.B. King and Jeff Beck, Lopez is the consummate string bender, a player of immense skill who will always worship at the temple of Jimi Hendrix. Not that such is a bad thing, as Lopez's technique is beyond reproach even as, like many guitarists, he sometimes sacrifices the song for the solo. But that is a minor quibble when considering Lopez's place in the long and distinguished line of Texas blues guitarists. Like Billy Gibbons and Lightnin' Hopkins, Lopez drains every ounce of emotion from his instrument. His passion is his power as Lopez revels in the intrinsic value of volume and speed. Darryl Smyers

JB and the Moonshine Band

Saturday, January 4, at Gas Monkey Bar & Grill

Tyler's JB and the Moonshine Band have most certainly graduated from the ranks of regional success stories since the release of the band's second record, 2012's Beer for Breakfast (which Rolling Stone named as a Top Five Country Album of 2012). Also, as the album's title suggests, the group has a keen sense of humor, but it's the songs exploring their softer sides that send a crowd's red Solo cups into the air. As the band preps its third album for a 2014 release, the single "Black and White," featuring Angaleena Presley of the Pistol Annies in her first solo foray since joining up with Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe, is gaining traction here at home and away. That tune is but the latest example of how this JB Patterson-led foursome can bring a welcome edge to their tunes while still just singing about love. When done as well as JB and the Moonshine do it, alcohol, laughs, love, drugs, kisses and heartbreak aren't country clichés but expertly employed elements of a killer song. Kelly Dearmore

Murder City Devils

Saturday, January 4, at Trees

Since the mid-1990s, Seattle's Murder City Devils have been a mercurial bunch. After releasing their self-titled debut album in 1997, most figured them to be a frenetic punk act, plain and simple. Their recorded output since then defies simple categorization, though. And there's never been anything terribly simple about the members of the group that once included graphic depictions of each band member as a murder victim in a CD booklet. For another example, it's always been kind of hard to tell if the band, led by vocalist Spencer Moody, is fully "back" or "together," other than when they're actually touring. In all actuality, especially in this current digitally social landscape, a band seeming even remotely enigmatic could be the result of something as simple as the band not caring what the public thinks as much as they care about bringing their glorious noise to our town. Kelly Dearmore

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