Tonight, Tonight: Lucero at Curtain Club, Tab Benoit at The Granada, Framing Hanley at Trees and Slackbeat at Rubber Gloves

Tonight's docket first seemed a pretty drab one. Then we caught wind of who got booked to be the secret performer at Elm Street Tattoo's annual Christmas affair at Curtain Club tonight.

Lucero, J. Charles & The Trainrobbers, Missile, Boys Named Sue, Matt Hillyer, White Mountain, Virgin Wolves at Curtain Club
For now the 14th year in a row, renowned tattoo artist Oliver Peck and his co-horts at his Deep Ellum-based Elm Street Tattoo shop will be throwing their annual Christmas Party to benefit Toys for Tots. Its a fairly expensive affair -- entry is $25 and an unwrapped toy to be donated to charity, and patrons are expected to dress in formal attire -- but the payback is a pretty big one. That steep cover charge gives all who enter a slew of chips to be used toward casino games that will yield prizes for those who have the highest chip counts at the night. And then there's the music, which isn't too shabby either. For the most part, the lineup is filled with local bands whose members are friends with Peck, and who play the shows he stridently supports. Subtract the "local" part and that same goes for the one-time "secret" performer booked to play this gig: Last time the alt-country kings in Lucero came through the region was for our very own Dallas Observer Music Awards, but , before that, it was for the Peck-helmed MusInk event at Fair Park. Expect to stay late if you hope to catch Lucero, though: The Memphis-based outfit isn't slated to perform until 1 a.m.

Tab Benoit and Bugs Henderson at The Granada Theater
Guitarists from all over North Texas (and probably beyond) will gather together at the Granada tonight to witness the greatness that is Tab Benoit and Bugs Henderson. This is kind of like going to a Star Wars convention and getting to meet Luke and Obi-Wan. Lousiana's Tab Benoit is an old-school blues guitarist who carries on in the tradition of legendary string benders such as Albert King and Albert Collins. Yes, he's that good. And Bugs Henderson is quite possibly the elder statesman of the Dallas blues scene. Together, these two should provide some serious shredding.

Framing Hanley, Transmit Now, It's Alive and American High at Trees
Nashville's Framing Hanley is the kind of bread-and-butter alt-rock band that never tries to be too important but makes music that is always inherently listenable. And any rock band that covers Lil Wayne (they do a great version of "Lolly Pop") is OK by me. The rest of this crowded bill is pretty top-notch as far as alternative rock goes these days. Florida's Transmit Now throws some nifty power-pop into the pop-punk stew, and another Florida band, It's Alive, has a nice grunge-influenced vibe. I've poked fun at Trees' booking policy in the past, but this is as nice a collection of alt-rock as can be found this holiday season.

Slackbeat, Sans Soleil and The Angelus at Rubber Gloves
A nice triple-bill of Denton acts hits the stage at Rubber Gloves this evening. Slackbeat more than live up to its name as the trio plays alt-country of the Frank Zappa variety. Chaotic, intense and almost frightening, the "songs" of Slackbeat defy easy catagorization. And that's a good thing. The quintet known as Sans Soleil is much more refined; songs like "Caldera" and "Memento Mori" might even fall under the progressive rock genre. Lengthy and exceedingly well-played, the songs of San Soleil set a cool mood that Slackbeat will certainly beat into submission. And The Angelues, led by one of the best vocalists in the region, Emil Rapstine, never disappoints.

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Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers